By Alex Pjinowski
Kenyon’s Center for the Study of American Democracy (CSAD) has announced that the topic of its third biennial conference will be “The Politics of Economic Inequality.” The conference, to be held April 9-11, 2014, will feature a keynote address by Austan Goolsbee, a University of Chicago economist who has chaired the Council of Economic Advisers in the Obama administration.
Besides Goolsbee, the Center has secured the appearance of Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who directed the Congressional Budget Office for two years during the presidency of George W. Bush and served as Senator John McCain’s top economic policy adviser during his 2008 presidential campaign.
Tom Karako, assistant professor of political science, has directed CSAD since 2011, and believes these two men are uniquely qualified to discuss the subject at hand because, in both cases, their work and experience “straddles the world of economics and politics.” He also confirmed that the Center continues to seek additional speakers to add to the lineup.
Karako emphasized that although a cohort of speakers with impressive credentials is one goal of the event, it is not the only goal. “The purpose of these conferences,” he said, “is part and parcel with the purpose of the Center, which is to foster thoughtful and civil conversation about the big issues of the day.”
The conference is still in the early stages of planning, so there is relatively little information now about the schedule of events.
However, reflecting on the 2012 conference, which focused on the role of the United States in promoting democracy abroad, Karako said, “we had ambassadors, we had prominent national journalists, and we had ﾅ think tank and opinion leaders from Washington, D.C. and around the country.”
Given the wide range of experts who were present at the 2012 gathering, it would not be surprising to see a similarly diverse group of guests this spring.
Karako sees these CSAD-hosted events as opportunities to engage the entire student body on issues of political awareness, and he hopes to promote “a sustained three-day conversation about this big question.” He also believes that the topic selected for this year is one which has been developing steadily in national politics for several years and will continue to be relevant for at least the next decade.
The mid-April date of the conference may seem far away at this stage of the school year, but Karako indicates that it is not too early to start thinking about its focus.
He believes that now is a good time for students “to begin thinking about just how the politics of inequality figure into their classes and into the political discourse that they already have on a weekly basis.”
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