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Alana Ryder, Manager, Public and University Programs
Sep 14, 2020
For the academic year ahead, the Wex has partnered with Ohio State’s Center for Historical Research (CHR) and the Institute for Democratic Engagement and Accountability (IDEA) on the multi-year series, Democracy in a Time of Change and Challenges, which launched in fall 2019. These free, virtual seminars by leading scholars from across the country will untangle some of the most critical issues facing democracy across the globe.
In July 2020, I spoke with CHR Director and Professor of History and Anthropology, John Brooke. Brooke co-organized Democracy in a Time of Change and Challenges and also leads two other series that might be of interest to students and the public, 1619 and Beyond: Explorations in Atlantic Slavery and its American Legacy and Crisis, Uncertainty, and History: Trajectories and Experiences of Accelerated Change.
Brooke explained the scope of his research and teaching that frames his work in CHR. “One half of me lives in early American history. The other half is being a world historian interested in material context and climate change,” Brooke described. His latest book, There is a North: Fugitive Slaves, Political Crisis, and Cultural Transformation in the Coming of the Civil War (2019) looks at race in transition in the mid-19th century and how people got involved in democratic action.
While speaking about the start of the school year, Brooke voiced concerns about distance learning and simultaneous hope for conversations while everyone’s safe at home. “We have some real challenges with inequities and structural problems for the upcoming school year," he expressed. "Not everyone has decent Internet connections and a private place where they can work.”
Overall, Brooke is optimistic about the shift in format of talks this year, and noted that this would be a big change for the speakers. “They won’t have to travel. They can stay with their kids and turn on Zoom for an hour-and-a-half. It used to be an enormous production, and now it’s nothing. The possibility to reach a much wider audience, internationally. Hundreds of people instead of dozens.”
For new and returning audiences, Brooke conveyed enthusiasm for how this series connects peers from all over the world. He's also excited about the following of community members (sometimes with no other affiliation to Ohio State) and undergrads built last year, not just the “grizzled professors.”
Mark your calendars for these programs held on select Fridays from September 2020 to April 2021.
Here's the full list of talks and details on how to RSVP.
Top of page: Harvard University professor Steven Levitsky speaking at a Democracy in a Time of Change and Challenges seminar in September 2019; Photo: Rhonda Maynard
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