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

Rocky Watch

Rocky Watch:"Crisis Governance: Lessons from American Policy History"

How does the United States government fare in the face of crises both past and present? In a “Rocky Watch” lecture live-streamed on May 27, 2020, Research Assistant Professor of Government Herschel Nachlis tackled this question. The lecture, “Crisis Governance: Lessons from American Policy History”, focused on patterns in crisis governance throughout the United States’ history. 

Professor Nachlis explained, “I’m interested in how old policies, old governance structures, interact with new social problems and new political problems.” This broad perspective informs his interest in crisis governing. In an interview following the event, Professor Nachlis shared a few key takeaways.

First, while it is tempting to direct all criticism towards current political actors, we should also turn a critical eye to the deeper structural problems that inform present-day responses. Chief among those is the fact that “we have underinvested in public health for the last fifty to sixty years,” he said. 

Dickey Center Director Daniel Benjamin Discusses the Fate of Globalization in Final Rocky Watch Event of the Spring Term

On Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020, Daniel Benjamin, Director of the Joan Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding, spoke with Dartmouth students and community members at the Rockefeller Center’s final 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.

Prior to joining the Dickey Center in 2012, Benjamin served as Ambassador-at-Large and Coordinator for Counterterrorism at the U.S. State Department, as a senior fellow in Foreign Policy Studies and director of the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution, and as Germany bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal. Ambassador Benjamin will be leaving the Dickey Center later this month to serve as president of the American Academy in Berlin. Benjamin’s lecture focused on the impact that the coronavirus is having on globalization and the international order. 

Professor Wheelan on “The Rationing: A Novel about a Pandemic in the Time of a Pandemic”

On Wednesday, May 20th, 2020, students and community members tuned in once again to Rocky Watch, the Rockefeller Center’s series of virtual public policy broadcasts. The series welcomed Professor Charles Wheelan, a senior lecturer and policy fellow at the Rockefeller Center. Professor Wheelan’s recent fiction novel, The Rationing, came out just months prior to the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. In his lecture, entitled “The Rationing: A Novel about a Pandemic in the Time of a Pandemic,” Professor Wheelan discussed the unsurprising nature of the current pandemic, as well as other long-term public policy issues that we tend to neglect in favor of more pressing problems.

Kate Hilton Discusses the Psychology of Change with The Rockefeller Center

On Wednesday, May 13th, 2020, expert in community organizing and the psychology of change, Kate Hilton, spoke with Dartmouth students and community members at the Rockefeller Center’s sixth 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.

Hilton studied at Dartmouth and Harvard Divinity School, and currently serves as leadership faculty in the Atlantic Fellows for Health Equity program at The George Washington University and at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI). Her talk covered how change can happen on an individual and systemic level. 

Dartmouth Students Learn About Careers in Law with the Rockefeller Center

On Tuesday, May 5th, 2020, N. Bruce Duthu ’80, the Samson Occom Professor of Native American Studies at Dartmouth, Sue Finegan ’85, a Partner and Chair of the Pro Bono Committee at Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky, & Popeo, PC, Shirley Jefferson, the Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Diversity at Vermont Law School, and John Mott ’81, a Former Associate Judge on the DC Superior Court, participated in a virtual panel on careers in law cohosted by the Rockefeller Center and the Center for Professional Development. The panel was intended to help undergraduates get a better grasp of what studying and pursuing a career in law entails.  

Lucy Hornby, Nieman Fellow and Former Financial Times Deputy Bureau Chief in Beijing, Discusses COVID-19’s Impact on China’s Global Standing with the Rockefeller Center

On Wednesday, May 6th, 2020 Nieman Fellow and former Financial Times deputy bureau chief in Beijing, Lucy Hornby, spoke with Dartmouth students and community members at the Rockefeller Center’s fifth 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.

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. 

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.  

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