1600 Grand Ave
St. Paul MN 55105
Sunday, July 22
Welcome Reception and Dinner
at Alumni House
Monday, July 23
Democracies: How Are They Created? Can They Endure?
After experimenting with numerous forms of government, the founders of democracy struggled to form the least worst form of governance. Democracy—arising from the classical Greek world—was based on “people power” or demokratia and was a system of laws in which all shared. Greek politicians and thinkers developed a sophisticated system for taxation, voting, land distribution, and the maintenance of just courts and jurists. What were their earliest criticisms of democracy? What led to the collapse of Greek democracy? What have contemporary democracies inherited from these earliest democrats? The rich store of information from our earliest sources sheds tremendous light on contemporary struggles to birth demokratia around the world
The Intersections of Democracy and Economics
J. Peter Ferderer
How do demographic, technological, and institutional forces contribute to the wealth of nations? The Glorious Revolution of 1688 in England is often viewed as bringing forth representative government that increased the private return to innovative activity. However, in recent years others argue that demographic forces (increased population growth and density) play a more important role. Robert Barro’s highly provocative finding (1996) that democracy is negatively correlated with economic growth questions the link between democracy and the wealth of nations. Our goal in this presentation is to discuss and analyze this debate.
“Better Living Through Technology”: Information Technology and Democracy in America
There is no fleeing from information technology, but in a constitutional democracy we must make choices about how to use it. We will consider a few of the ways technology is being employed in the process of governing 300 million Americans, and discuss what values are at stake. Topics will include the Supreme Court’s consideration this year of whether GPS tracking violates constitutional protection, and whether new ways that citizens and the bureaucracy are communicating makes for better government, changed government, or something far worse.
Film followed by discussion
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Frank Capra’s film continues to be a touchstone for citizens confronting an unresponsive U.S. political system that seems increasingly in the thrall of the richest of the rich. The main writer for Mr. Smith was Sidney Buchman, a member of the Communist Party USA, and the film can be viewed as a fantasy of Popular Front triumph over corruption. However, the seemingly happy ending may have more to do with Capra’s deft editing. Buchman was blacklisted in Hollywood for a decade after refusing to name former CPUSA members for the House Committee on Un- American Activities.
Dinner on Your Own
Tuesday, July 24
9 –10:15 a.m.
Revolutionaries and Republicans: New Social Media’s Role in Building Democratic Institutions
From the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street protests, new social media tools like Twitter and Facebook were said to play a powerful role in advancing democratic impulses and institutions. Republican presidential candidates also embraced new online communication tools in their quest to defeat Barack Obama. However, critics like Malcolm Gladwell have argued that new social media only create “weak ties” rather than the strong ones upon which social movements and government institutions rely. Which is it? And who really uses social media? Scholars have answers that may surprise you.
10:45 a.m. – Noon
The Globalization of Democracy and the Democratization of Global Governance
Recent popular protests against undemocratic forms of governance have featured citizens of a state demanding the ouster of an autocratic regime. But other protests have targeted institutions of global governance—the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, for example— for what has been identified as their ‘democratic deficit.’ Situating democracy in a global context, the first part of the session will focus on the Arab Spring and will assess the prospects for the spread of democracy to new countries. The second part will consider the prospects for the democratization of global governance, focusing on key institutions and their democratic deficit.
Democracy and the 2012 Elections
With only a few months remaining before the 2012 elections, we will consider the role that the economy, issues, and partisanship typically play in shaping American presidential elections. In addition, particular attention will be focused on the battleground states in the upcoming election and discuss how the Electoral College shapes presidential candidates’ campaign strategies.
Democracy in Action: A Conversation with Macalester Alumni
Hear alumni who work “on the ground” in politics, grassroots organizing and the judiciary discuss how they experience democracy at the local, state and national levels.
Reception and dinner on campus
Wednesday, July 25
Having looked at the prospects for the future of democracy from various perspectives, we will discuss how this knowledge might guide our personal and national actions.