School of Liberal Arts Organizes Civil Discourse Panel


Mackenzie Bookamer , Contributing Reporter

During the 2020 election season, multiple departments at Tulane have worked to increase access to opportunities for civic engagement, whether that be through virtual watch events or voter registration drives. In conjunction with these efforts, Brian Edwards, dean of the School of Liberal Arts, has organized a panel titled “Election 2020: Tulane Experts Bring Context to a Historic Election.” Originally scheduled for the Thursday before the election, the panel has been postponed due to Hurricane Zeta to the Monday following the election. 

“We put together an event originally as an election preview to help give students in particular a fuller context for understanding the election, both to make their own choices for voting, non-partisan panel, to give context but also just to explain cultural and social and political moments that we’re in, because it is so charged,” Edwards said. 

Organizers say the panel will be non-partisan, giving those who attend an objective view of the social, political and historical context of this year’s election. 

“Despite the fact we were initially disappointed by that [rescheduling] because it couldn’t inform students before voting, we also knew that it would be almost as important to give context on what had happened or what was in the process of happening,”  Edwards said. 

This year’s election has seen an unprecedented number of votes cast before the actual election day, causing the results of the U.S. Senate and presidential elections to be delayed. 

The panel is composed of four professors of the School of Liberal Arts — Jana Lipman, who has expertise on the U.S.’ role in foreign affairs; Karissa Haugeberg, with expertise in the role of healthcare and gender in history; Robert Westley, who specializes in constitutional law; and , with a particular interest in American politics.  

“I thought about putting together a sort of a balanced panel, balanced in terms of discipline, in terms of, I really wanted to have these disciplines represented,” Edwards said. “There’s obviously a lot of profound impact of political choices, and our scholars are really good at giving that deeper context and texture. 

While these panelists will all be actively leading the panel along with Edwards’ moderation, there is an emphasis on student involvement and engagement. Edwards expressed that the panel was created in partnership with Tulane College Democrats and Tulane College Republicans. Both organizations were consulted when determining who would sit on the panel of the event. The SLA government, along with other student organizations, will also be represented by asking questions during the event. 

“We really wanted student involvement there, and so we’re bringing it in through the questions,” Edwards said. 

Edwards also said that the panel will function as a large discusion where student questions facilitate the conversations had, and students are encouraged to bring any questions they have for the panelists to the event Monday night.

“Having the space to ask questions, understand historical trends and contexts, or political trends and contexts, in a non partisan space is really something I’m trying to create,” Edwards said. 

The panel will be held on Monday, Nov. 9, at 7 p.m. 

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