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

Public Programs

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.

Yale Professor Daniel Markovits on Economic Equality and Inequality

In his pubic lecture titled “Meritocracy and Its Discontents,” Markovits sets out to discuss the interrelationship of meritocracy and aristocracy. As Markovits argued, both aristocracy and meritocracy foster the same ideological conceit that is an unjust allocation of advantage. Markovits’ argument constituted three points: (1) modern meritocracy has transformed the character of economic inequality; (2) the hyper-meritocracy that has developed in the United States today benefits no one; and (3) merit itself has become a sham.

During a lunch with Dartmouth students on the day of his lecture, Markovits started by describing the prevalence of economic equality in the U.S.

“Things I care about most at the moment include economic equality and inequality,” said Markovits. “Inequality in the market has increased dramatically since 1970 and may begin to happen elsewhere in the world. My intent is to describe the situation we find ourselves in, show why its unsuited to being addressed by traditional arguments about redistribution, and articulate new arguments in the face of changing circumstances.”

The Growing Danger of Nuclear War and What We Can Do About It

On April 4th, 2016, Dr. Ira Helfand held a dinner discussion with nineteen Dartmouth students, following his lecture on “The Growing Danger of Nuclear War and What We Can Do About It.” Dr. Helfand, the co-president of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, was soft-spoken but incredibly passionate. He deftly addressed each question, ranging from skeptical ones—“what would happen to ‘nuclear deterrence’ strategies in the wake of disarmament?”—to practical ones—“how can college students support your cause?”—with an unwavering conviction in his stance. Though Dr. Helfand contends that nuclear weapons represent the greatest threat to our health and safety, his aim was not to shock or scare. Instead, he wanted students to leave the conversation remembering the content of his answers, and ready to prioritize this issue moving forward. “Don’t you want to be able to say one day that you helped save the world?”

Submitted by Devyn Greenberg’17, Rockefeller Center Student Program Assistant for Public Programs

The Wild 2016 Race for the White House: An Informed Analysis

With the 2016 presidential election approaching rapidly, politics has once again risen to the forefront of many of our thoughts. As primaries and caucuses for party nominations quickly come and go, the competition to win the nomination becomes ever stiffer as voting results force some nominees to the frontlines of the battle for the presidency while others are forced to drop out. Now perhaps more so than ever, the media and the public alike are also becoming politicized as debates regarding likely nominees and general election scenarios rage on. This intense scrutiny focused on the 2016 presidential election is, perhaps, partly due to the various conflicting forces at play in this presidential election, from the great ideological divergence between the potential nominees of the opposing parties to the different personas adopted by potential nominees within their own parties. A number of important developments, including the sudden loss of a Supreme Court Justice and a new round of terrorist attacks in Europe, have further intensified this election.

Trustee Mort Kondracke '60 discusses Jack Kemp

With the presidential election coming up rapidly, politics has once again risen to the forefront of our thoughts. Especially as primaries and caucuses for party nominations go on, the media and the public alike are debating likely nominees and general election scenarios. One reason for this even more intense than usual scrutiny, perhaps, is the great divergence in the ideologies of the candidates running this time. From Bernie Sanders to Donald Trump, the candidates run the whole gamut of political ideologies, and it seems that they are focusing on differentiating themselves from the other party more than ever. This extreme polarization of the candidates and the general populace supporting them is concerning to many.

On March 2, 2016, the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center welcomed Dartmouth alum Morton Kondracke ’60 to discuss Jack Kemp and how his ideology may help turn the country away from such extremism. His remarks in particular focused on specific policies Jack Kemp suggested, and how those may help America revive growth, family prosperity and national morale.

The Future of Privacy, Free Speech, and the Curse of Bigness

With the passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia earlier this month, a seat in the Supreme Court has opened up. The vacancy of his seat removes a critical voice in the contentious decisions that face the Justices of the Supreme Court. Thus, a monumental debate over who should and will succeed Justice Scalia ensues. Connecting current events to the timeless values of the Supreme Court, the Rockefeller Center hosted a lecture by Jeffrey Rosen on the 100th anniversary of the Supreme Court confirmation of Justice Louis D. Brandeis.

Why Do State Supreme Courts Matter to You?

Today the U.S. Supreme Court is undeniably one of the most important actors in our political landscape. Especially with major landmark cases last year dealing with issues from healthcare to LGBT rights, the Supreme Court has increasingly received a lot of attention from the public for both good and bad. Comparatively, however, state supreme courts often go unrecognized for the most part. Despite this relative lack of public attention, however, state supreme courts often play just as integral a role in their respective states as the U.S. Supreme Court does for the country.

On Wednesday, February 24, 2016 the Rockefeller Center hosted four Dartmouth alumni, the Hon. James Basset ’78, Hon. Robert Cordy ’71, Hon. Beth Robinson ’86 and Susan “Sue” Finegan ’85 to discuss the role that state supreme courts and supreme court justices play. Specifically, they discussed issues such as the difference between state and federal courts, how the role state supreme court justices play has evolved over time, and paths to becoming a state supreme court justice.


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