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Drake to host free conference on “Issues Facing the Next President”

February 22, 2016

As the United States continues to narrow its search for the next president, Drake University will host a free conference to delve into some of the most pressing national issues that our next Commander in Chief will face during his or her time in office.

The 2016 Engaged Citizen Experience Conference: Issues Facing the Next President will be held Friday, Feb. 26 beginning at 1:30 p.m. in the upper level of Drake’s Olmsted Center, 2875 University Ave. The event is free and open to the public; advance registration is requested.

The conference will address a variety of national and international topics, including two multi-track breakout sessions and a Keynote Panel on Structural and Systemic Challenges, moderated by Mark Kende, director of Drake’s Constitutional Law Center. Heavy hors d’oeuvres will be provided prior to the keynote session.

The first breakout session will address the following topics:

  • Immigration, presented by Eleanor Zeff, associate professor in Drake’s Department of Political Science, with La Fuerza Latino student organization as a co-facilitator. This session will explore Iowa’s past history with immigration and the reasons why many immigrants choose to come to Iowa and the United States. A panel of representatives from Lutheran Services of Iowa, the Iowa International Center, and Drake students who have worked with immigrants will lead a conversation about immigration in Iowa and the various groups of people who have come to Iowa in the past and the present.
  • Gender Inequality, presented by Jennifer Perrine, associate professor of English and director of women’s and gender studies. This session will address the lack of representation of women in legislative bodies in the U.S., and will also discuss the disproportionate number of transgender people affected by unemployment and poverty.
  • Climate Change, presented by David Courard-Hauri, associate professor of environmental science and policy, and the Drake Environmental Action League. This session will discuss how the next president can address climate change if we assume that national politics will not change dramatically over the next several elections.
  • Public Health, presented by Emily Sadecki, a senior pursuing a dual degree in journalism and biochemistry, cell, and molecular biology. Sadecki’s session will address the benefits and drawbacks of modern genetic technology through both historical and modern case studies.

The second breakout session will allow participants the opportunity to explore:

  • Dialogue on Race: The Color of Democracy, presented by Carol Spaulding-Kruse, professor of English; Tony Tyler, director of student engagement, equality, and inclusion; and Kyle Munson, Iowa columnist for The Des Moines Register.
  • China and Hong Kong, presented by David Skidmore, professor of political science. Skidmore’s session will provide a simulation of crisis decision-making at the U.S. consulate in Hong Kong, allowing three different groups of participants to develop recommendations for differing problems.
  • The Middle East, presented by Mahmoud Hamad, associate professor in the Department of Political Science, and students from the Middle East Peace and Prosperity Alliance. Participants will establish strategies through which nations involved in the conflict in Syria can move forward.
  • Food Security, presented by Carlyn Crowe, internship coordinator the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and Laura Leben, Drake University student service-learning ambassador for the Drake Food Recovery Project. As global demand for food will nearly double by 2050, crops are increasingly being used for food, fuel, fiber, bioenergy, and other industrial purposes; this session will discuss a plethora of challenges in food security and agriculture, including policy, human rights, environmental/climate change, population migration, diplomacy, international relations, and more.

The evening keynote panel on structural and systemic challenges facing the new president will begin at 6:20 p.m. in Parents Hall North, Olmsted Center. Participants will include moderator Mark Kende, director of the Constitutional Law Center at Drake Law School; Associate Professor of Politics and International Relations Rachel Paine Caufield, assistant director for citizen engagement, Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement; Scott Raecker, director of The Robert D. and Billie Ray Center at Drake University; and Zach Blevins, vice president of student life at Drake University.

The conference is sponsored by the Drake University Engaged Citizen Experience, David and Carol Golder, the Golder Family Foundation, and the Ronald and Jane Olson Endowment for Global Service-Learning.