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


Anya Sorenson '22 RGLP Reflection: Exploring Conflict

Anyone who knows me well would admit that my conflict style is direct. When it comes to any type of problem, large or small, I’m not the kind of person who likes to “beat around the bush”. I prefer open conversations that address the problem at hand. While not always associated with French culture, the French are very direct with both positive and negative comments. As my mother is French, my French American family is no different. Growing up in South Florida added to this, as most of my friends developed the same conflict style in their families as well. While I’m in no way saying that conflict was always resolved smoothly, open and direct discussion were the norm.

Amanda McIntyre '22 RGLP Reflection: Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

Culture shock is the discomfort, anxiety, and sometimes embarrassment one experiences when being in a space where that person’s own cultural norms are not the general norm. Moreover, culture shock is displacement and the constant obsession of one feeling as if they do not belong. No, I cannot speak to everyone’s experiences, but I find it hard to believe someone has not experienced culture shock at least once. No, culture shock cannot be avoided; however, yes, there are ways one can overcome the symptoms of culture shock.

Class of '64 Policy Research Shop Students Testify in Spring 2020

Two groups of Class of 1964 Policy Research Shop students recently testified before committees in New Hampshire and Vermont remotely over Zoom.

The first Zoom testimony occurred on May 22 when PRS students Sam Selleck, Katie Smith, and Jacob Zarkower presented their findings in “Juvenile Justice System Spending in New Hampshire and across the United States,” PRS Policy Brief 1920-09, to the NH Juvenile Justice Working Group and the NH Office of the Child Advocate.

Their team began work on this project in the fall as they met as a group weekly to discuss their work. This spring they moved to working remotely. Jacob Zarkower said, “At our weekly zoom meetings, the four of us discussed flaws to be targeted the following week, in addition to checking in on each other. This was truly a team effort, and I am excited to see the impact our work can have on the youth and families of New Hampshire.” After the committee meeting, which was attended by over 30 people, Sam Selleck shared, “It was definitely rewarding to have the chance to present our research today to the people at the forefront of juvenile justice reform in New Hampshire.”

Interview with Newly Appointed Rockefeller Center Director, Jason Barabas '93

Newly appointed Director of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center, Jason Barabas ’93, was recently interviewed by two Dartmouth Students. Check out their conversation below.

Jason Barabas '93 Named Rockefeller Center Director


Rockefeller Center Announcement

May 19, 2020

Jason Barabas ’93, a professor of political science and director of the master’s program in public policy at Stony Brook University, has been named director of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences, Elizabeth Smith, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences announced today.

Barabas begins his job as director of the Rockefeller Center, and as a professor of government, on July 1, taking over from interim director Russell Muirhead, who has led the center while Dartmouth conducted a national search for a permanent director. Andrew Samwick, the Sandra L. and Arthur L. Irving '72a P'10 Professor of Economics, stepped down as the Rockefeller Center's director at the end of June 2019, to return to teaching and research after leading the center for 15 years.

Professor Singh on “Should We Cancel Debt? Insights from the Ancient World”

On Wednesday, April 29th, 2020 students and community members tuned in to watch Rocky Watch, the Rockefeller Center’s series of public policy broadcasts. The series welcomed Professor Devin Singh, Associate Professor of Religion at Dartmouth, who is currently a visiting scholar at Princeton University’s Center for the Study of Religion. Professor Singh’s lecture was entitled, “Should We Cancel Debt? Insights from the Ancient World” and centered around the historical connection between morality and debt, and the current question of debt cancellation in our society.

Professor Singh opened his discussion with a series of polls for the audience regarding their opinions on debt cancellation. The responses varied greatly depending on the type of debt cancellation in question, whether it was general debt, student debt, or consumer debt. Professor Singh cited the variation to highlight that “debt is a morally fraught issue.” In my interview with him after the lecture, he noted that “people might render certain forms of debt as illegitimate...we are making moral judgments about debt all the time.”

Professor Shaiko on “Who Is Responsible for Responsible Citizenship? Phronetic Learning and the Quest for Practical Wisdom”

On Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020, students and community members gathered virtually to attend the latest Rocky Watch event. The series of public policy broadcasts welcomed Professor Ronald Shaiko, a Senior Fellow and the Associate Director for Curricular and Research Programs at The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center, in a lecture entitled, “Who Is Responsible for Responsible Citizenship? Phronetic Learning and the Quest for Practical Learning.”

Professor Shaiko’s main argument focused on the gap between the mission statements of higher learning institutions and the actual commitments to these claims. As he noted on Wednesday, it seems to be expected that, “by breathing the air in Palo Alto you will come out a responsible citizen.” Professor Shaiko challenges this notion and proposes that the nation’s top colleges and universities need to forge a path toward practical wisdom, that goes beyond simply disseminating knowledge to students. 

Dartmouth Students Start Online Platform to Help Essential Workers

Two Dartmouth students have joined together to help essential workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Amy Guan ’20 and Rine Uhm ’22 have built an online platform to match essential workers with donors to provide them with everything from children's toys to soap and shampoo.

Guan and Uhm, former roommates, came up with the idea for the platform, called Give Essential, on April 8. By April 10, they had the website up and running. Workers in essential jobs who are unable to work from home during the pandemic — such as grocery clerks and delivery drivers — can use the online platform to identify things they need, from COVID-19 protection to toiletries to games to gift cards. Donors can then fill out a form detailing what they are able to provide. 

Give Essential facilitates matches between requests and donations, then provides donors with information about how to mail, hand-deliver or electronically deliver items to workers, usually in the donor’s area, according to Uhm. She added that workers can choose whether or not to provide their names.

Guan said that she reached out to Uhm after noticing a lack of support for certain essential workers.

Professor Mia Costa on “Identity, Incivility, and Policy Issues in Congressional Communication” 

Traditionally, congressional communications have focused on educating voters on policy issues, but the current era of political polarization has brought a shift towards uncivil appeals to social identity. Assistant Professor of Government Mia Costa discussed this shift, and the implications it holds for political representation, at her Rocky Watch lecture, “Identity, Incivility, and Policy Issues in Congressional Communication.” 

In an interview after the event, Professor Costa explained that her broader research interests center around “how well people are represented by government, and what people think about that representation.” She emphasized that determining what counts as “good” or “bad” representation is an interpretive normative question with no real answer. She likes to take a bottom-up approach to that question, focusing on public opinion data. Do people feel represented? Do they have confidence in their representatives? In exploring these more practical questions, she can circumvent sticky meta-theoretical philosophizing about the foundational purpose of political representation. 

Professor Russell Muirhead Discusses “Conspiracy Without the Theory” in First Rocky Watch Event of the Spring Term

On Wednesday, April 8th, Dartmouth’s Robert Clements Professor of Democracy and Politics and Interim Director of the Rockefeller Center, Russel Muirhead, spoke at the Rockefeller Center’s first Rocky Watch event of the spring term. Rocky Watch is a weekly series of live broadcasts that the Center hopes will foster a virtual common space for community discussion in this time of social distancing and remote learning. The digital event began with Deputy Director of the Rockefeller Center, Sadhana Hall, expressing enthusiasm and hope about this term of remote learning, before introducing Professor Muirhead.

Muirhead’s most recent book, coauthored with Harvard Professor Nancy Rosenblum, is “A Lot of People are Saying: The New Conspiracism and the Assault on Democracy.” It explores the rise of conspiratorial thinking across the world, and Muirhead shared many of the book’s key findings during Wednesday’s discussion.  


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