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National Agenda speaker series opens Sept. 4
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The University of Delaware's Center for Political Communication (CPC) will sponsor its ninth annual National Agenda speaker series this semester, with a variety of talks exploring democracy in the United States today.

The "Direction Democracy" series opens Wednesday, Sept. 4, with a talk by former Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer, now host of the popular political podcast "Pod Save America."

All talks in the series, which are free and open to the public, begin at 7:30 p.m. in Mitchell Hall. Registration for most of the events is recommended but optional, but registration is required for the Nov. 6 talk by former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; visit the Eventbrite page for details.

"As we get ready for the 2020 election cycle it's important to think about the future of this nation and how the political process impacts our democracy," said Nancy Karibjanian, director of the CPC. "The equation is really very simple―where we've been impacts where we are today and where democracy is heading in the future. Therefore, we landed on 'Direction Democracy' as the focus for National Agenda 2019."

The speakers will put that direction in the spotlight as they examine the state of American democracy from a wide range of perspectives.

"This year's lineup promises to bring a plethora of political opinions to campus, from the Left to the Right and in between," said Lindsay Hoffman, the National Agenda series director and CPC associate director.

Schedule of six speakers

"Two of our speakers also have Delaware ties―Dan Pfeiffer grew up in Delaware, and Chris Christie received his bachelor's degree from the University of Delaware. We're looking forward to a rigorous and open discussion around the state of this nearly 250-year-old uniquely American experiment that is democracy."

The National Agenda series, held each year during fall semester, is also an academic course in which students have the opportunity to host and interact with the nationally known speakers during their visits to campus and learn some of the operations involved in staging a political event.

The speaker series is supported by the Office of the Provost.

This year's speakers and their topics are:

Sept. 4, Dan Pfeiffer, "Speaking from the Left." Author of the bestseller Yes We (Still) Can: Politics in the Age of Obama, Twitter and Trump, Pfeiffer pioneered the use of digital and social media platforms in political campaigns when he served as communications director for the Obama campaign. Pfeiffer is a Delaware native and graduate of Wilmington Friends School.

Sept. 11, Rob Rogers, "Drawing Democracy." Rogers is an award-winning, nationally syndicated editorial cartoonist formerly with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. His book, Enemy of the People: A Cartoonist's Journey, talks about the importance of satire in today's political climate.

Sept. 25, Jamelle Bouie, "Contextualizing Culture." A New York Times columnist, CBS News political analyst and former Slate magazine chief political correspondent, Bouie covers politics, public policy, elections and race, taking his audiences to the front lines of the nation's most significant news events.

Oct. 2, Tara Setmayer, "Speaking from the Right." Setmayer is a CNN political contributor, media commentator, podcast host and former Republican communications director on Capitol Hill. She became well-known nationally as a CNN political commentator during the 2016 presidential election cycle.

Nov. 6, Chris Christie, "Deciphering Political Power." Christie, a UD alumnus (CAS84) and former U.S. attorney for New Jersey, served as the state's two-term governor from 2010-18 and was a candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. He describes his political career in a new book, Let Me Finish: Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics.

Nov. 20, John Della Volpe, "Measuring Millennials." The director of polling at the Harvard Kennedy School's Institute of Politics, Della Volpe is the founder of SocialSphere, a public opinion and analytics company. The Washington Post has called him one of the world's leading authorities on opinion, especially among Millennials.

An opportunity for UD students to speak out

In conjunction with National Agenda, the CPC is holding its third annual audio essay contest for UD students, titled "Speak Up!"

All students are eligible to join the campus-wide conversation by sharing their own views on American democracy in a two- to four-minute recorded audio essay.

"The contest brings to light the viewpoints of our students and how they feel about democracy and their place in defining its direction," Karibjanian said. "Their voices and their honest opinions will extend the dialogue of National Agenda, bringing these questions about our country to a personal level."

Entries are now being accepted, with a submission deadline of Friday, Dec. 6. Finalists will be recognized at a public event in the spring, and monetary prizes will be awarded.

For details, visit the Speak Up! webpage.

Published Sept. 3, 2019

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The 2019 National Agenda series will bring prominent speakers to campus this semester to examine the state of American democracy from a range of perspectives.

​The 2019 National Agenda series will bring prominent speakers to campus this semester to examine the state of American democracy from a wide range of perspectives.

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