The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Public Programs

Guest Speakers Enhance Student Learning

Each year, the Rockefeller Center hosts a robust agenda of public programs to offer an even closer look at public policy and policymaking through the lens of public officials, distinguished scholars, political figures, journalists, and other civically engaged leaders and activists.

These special events inform, educate, and enrich the discourse amongst faculty, staff, and students from across campus, as well as with members of the broader community.

These invited guests also serve as an important part of the educational experience for students by visiting classes while on campus. During these interactions, they expose students to real-world life experiences, sharing insights and perspectives from their particular field.

During the 2016 summer term, former U.S. Senator Judd Gregg visited Professor Charlie Wheelan’s course, Economics of Public Policymaking.

Class of 1930 Fellow Amb. Jane Hartley on "The French-American Relationship"

As part of the Class of 1930 Lecture series, the Rockefeller Center hosted Ambassador Jane Hartley, who shared her knowledge on the French-American bilateral relationship and her experience as U.S. Ambassador to the French Republic and the Principality of Monaco between 2014 and 2017.

Although she had previously served in the Carter administration and on the Business Roundtable, in fall 2013, Amb. Hartley was running an international consulting firm and had no political ambitions, which made the call from the White House offering the ambassadorship all the more shocking. She described the whirlwind of affairs between her acceptance of the position and her first steps on French soil in the capacity of ambassador, particularly describing the intensity of the vetting process and divestment procedures as well as the overwhelming media reception she received upon landing in France. The most difficult adjustment she had to make though was getting used to constant security escort after a lifetime of living in New York and taking taxis at will.

Recognizing Rockefeller Center Student Program Assistant: Olivia Bewley ’19

Olivia Bewley ’19, a Government and Anthropology double major from Moorestown, New Jersey, is currently serving her fifth term as one of the Rockefeller Center’s Student Program Assistants for Public Programs. Olivia has been involved with the Rockefeller Center since her freshmen year when she started to attend several of Rocky’s programs and events to learn more about public policy.

Olivia began to develop her academic interest in public policy by taking PBPL 5: Introduction to Public Policy with Professor Ron Shaiko her freshmen winter and later by being selected as a First-Year Fellow. Interning in Washington. D.C. her freshmen summer as a Fellow helped further spark her interest in public policy. Coming back to campus after her Fellowship, Olivia began working with Joanne Needham, who is the Program Officer for public programs and special events, and has been in same position ever since.

The Brooks Family Lecture: “Ten Years after the Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences”

As part of the Brooks Family Lecture series, Aaron Klein ’98 gave a lecture entitled “Ten Years after the Financial Crisis: Causes and Consequences”.

Aaron Klein elucidated the consequences and causes of the 2007-2008 financial crisis by detailing how the “perfect storm” of factors combined led to the financial crisis. In particular, he focused on the convergence of the housing bubble and the proliferation of new financial instruments that decoupled loan repayment from profitability origination. He then transitioned into an overview of how repeated warnings about predatory lending practices and subprime mortgages went unheeded. Klein contended that Glass-Steagall would not have prevented the financial crisis because most of the subprime mortgage players—Bear Sterns, Lehman Brothers, AIG, among others—would not have been impacted, and also argued that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were not responsible for the crisis because they did not originate any mortgages.

2017 Constitution Day: Professor Duchin Discusses Geometry and Political Representation

In honor of 2017 Constitution Day, the Rockefeller Center hosted Professor Moon Duchin of Tufts University, who gave a presentation on the impact of geometry in the determination of voting districts and the larger implications for political representation.

Professor Duchin provided an overview of how congressional districting works and the policy tradeoffs inherent to the current systems of voter counting and apportionment of Congressional representatives. She focused on gerrymandering and its various and often overlapping manifestations: political gerrymandering, which is the redrawing of voting districts for partisan gain; racial gerrymandering, which is the redrawing of voting districts for the purpose of diluting the voting strength of minority groups; and incumbent gerrymandering, which is the redrawing of voting districts for the purpose of creating safe seats for Republican and Democratic politicians. Professor Duchin also explained the different and often complementary mechanisms by which gerrymandering is achieved, specifically, the practices of voter “packing” and voter “cracking.”

Dartmouth Conference Explores ‘Interacting Across Difference’

Original article by Bill Platt appeared in the Dartmouth News on September 15, 2017.

The Boston neighborhoods where Assistant Professor of Sociology Emily Walton is conducting ethnographic research are quite diverse if you look at the demographic data, but what she sees when she walks along the streets is a story of people living in separate worlds, side by side.

“There’s enormous income inequality. On one side of the street you have housing projects, but then the area is gentrifying so quickly that across the street you have a luxury condo building where each unit sells for $2 million,” says Walton. “So the kinds of services the people in the condos want—the Whole Foods, high-end retail stores, dog parks—don’t serve the needs of the folks living in the subsidized housing across the street.”

Journalist Karin Pettersson on Disrupted Discourse in the Media Landscape

On May 15, 2017, Karin Pettersson gave the Bernard D. Nossiter ’47 lecture on the challenges that traditional media outlets and democracy in a broader sense, face in a period of intense political polarization as encapsulated in far right-wing populist movements. Pettersson discussed the perfect storm formed by the transformation of the media landscape and the ascension of right-wing populism in Europe and the United States, combined with the vulnerabilities these changes have revealed. Considering this volatile environment, Pettersson also addressed the ways in which journalists and citizens can meet this growing challenge.

Although Pettersson’s work as a political editor-in-chief now concerns right-wing populist movements and the changing landscape of journalism, her initial academic pursuits were actually in the field of economics. Even Pettersson’s studies in economics, however, contained elements of writing as exemplified by her early summer internship in writing about macroeconomics.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day 2017

Martin Luther King Jr. served as an important icon of the American civil rights movement. He fought nonviolently for racial equality up until his assassination in 1968. In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed legislation to create a holiday commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. on the third Monday of January. This falls near MLK’s birthday on January 15th. As of 2000, all 50 states observe the holiday that honors Dr. King’s fight for justice and equality.

There are many opportunities at Dartmouth College to celebrate MLK Day. Today there will be a Keynote Performance with Rev. Osagyefo Sekou with remarks by President Phil Hanlon '77 and Selome Ejigu ’17 at 7pm in Moore Theater. The 25th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Candlelight Vigil Procession will also take place today at 5pm in Cutter-Shabazz Hall. Click here to see a full listing of events.

Nossiter Lecture: Chemical Nation by Journalist Mariah Blake

Big industries have more autonomy than ever in determining the chemical composition of their products, sometimes at the risk of consumer safety. Recent controversy has erupted over the presence of potentially harmful chemicals like synthetic estrogen in plastic products such as toddler sippy cups, despite the producers’ claims that they create no health risks to consumers. With producers’ commercial interests representing their first priority, how can consumers be certain that potential exposure to chemicals will cause them no harm?

Celebrating Law Day at Dartmouth with Stephen Bright

While the Civil Rights Movement led to much legislative advancement toward racial equality, the criminal courts in the U.S. judicial system remained largely unaffected. Although many consider legislation to represent one of the main drivers of racial oppression, criminal courts are often overlooked as a source of inequality. As court outcomes are shaped by many discretionary factors like the competence of a defendant’s lawyer, it may be the case that courts have played a role in the oppression of people of color.

As the President and Senior Counsel at the Southern Center for Human Rights, Stephen B. Bright made the argument that criminal courts are a source of racial oppression in his lecture titled “Rigged: When Race and Poverty Determine Outcomes in Death Penalty and Other Criminal Cases.” He discussed how the criminal courts have represented a primary driver of racial injustice throughout U.S. history, through institutions such as slavery, Jim Crow laws, and mass incarceration of minorities. He spoke about how race and poverty are often dominant factors in the outcomes of criminal cases, and how discretionary discretions in cases are often influenced by race.

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