PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — As the 2020 presidential election nears, Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs is gearing up for the big day with debate debriefs, film screenings and discussions on democracy and voting in the coming weeks.
As part of its mission to promote a just and peaceful world through research, teaching and public engagement, the Watson Institute will host dozens of public events and student gatherings that call on students, expert scholars and resident practitioners to provide new insights on, and offer solutions to, the most pressing current issues in the United States.
The institute’s many fall offerings aim to arm both Brown students and the public with the information they need to make informed decisions at the polls.
“With the country facing a deadly pandemic, a major reckoning with the racism of its past and present, and an increase in life-threatening wildfires and hurricanes caused by climate change, this is perhaps one of the most consequential elections any of us has faced,” said Ed Steinfeld, director of the Watson Institute. “It is therefore more imperative than ever that we understand the impact we can make when we fill out our ballots. This election season, as ever, we at Watson are dedicated to engaging the Brown and Rhode Island communities in lively, non-partisan discussions about the most urgent problems of our time.”
The institute’s John F. Kennedy Jr. Initiative for Documentary Film and Social Progress kicks off on Sept. 22 and 23 with two screenings of “All In: The Fight For Democracy,” which explores historical and current patterns of voter suppression in the U.S. Following the Sept. 23 screening, the institute will host a discussion between director and Brown Class of 1992 graduate Liz Garbus and Stacey Abrams, former Georgia House of Representatives minority leader and Georgia gubernatorial candidate. The film series continues on Friday, Oct. 9, with a screening and discussion of “Boys State,” which follows 1,000 Texas high school seniors as they build a mock state government.
On Friday, Sept. 25, Watson Institute faculty member Rob Blair will lead a discussion with six other scholars on the most important political threats to voting rights and equal representation in American politics today. Blair will also spend the entire fall semester exploring the issue in depth with students in the course Democratic Erosion, which he developed in 2017 alongside experts at 20 universities and colleges across the country.