Category Archives: Scholars’ Circle Interviews

Information and recordings from Schloars’ Circle radio show is posted here.

Scholars’ Circle – Voter Suppression acts on marginalized communities ; In the name of Majoritarian democracy – November 13, 2022

Since 2020 many states have passed legislation, making it more difficult to vote. Fears of voter suppression in the disenfranchisement of marginalized communities proliferated the 2022 midterms. But were these fears realized? [ dur: 42mins. ]

When does democracy have a dark side? Our guest says that majorities can and do oppress minorities in the name of majoritarian democracy. [ dur: 16mins. ]

On this post election week, from our archives we bring you this discussion on the dark side of democracy.

This program is produced by Ankine Aghassian, Doug Becker, Melissa Chiprin, Mihika Chechi, and Sudd Dongre.

Scholars’ Circle – Lula’s election win in Brazil ; Abelism invoked upon Pennsylvania Senate candidate – November 6, 2022

Brazil’s election of Lula da Silva over Bolsonaro has provided hope that the country will retain its democratic institutions. We discuss the elections and the likely policy changes. [ dur: 38mins. ]

The campaign of John Fetterman for a Senate seat from Pennsylvania has produced some truly disturbing ableist discourses about the qualifications of persons with disabilities for public service. How is this ableist narrative framing the rights and abilities of persons with disabilities in the United States? What does this mean for persons with disabilities and their capabilities as elected officials? We explore this debate. [ dur: 20mins. ]

This program is produced by Ankine Aghassian, Doug Becker, Mihika Chechi, and Sudd Dongre.

Scholars’ Circle – Biography of Judge Frank M. Coffin ; History of 3rd party politics in US – October 30, 2022

Some say that we have entered a new era in Supreme Court jurisprudence in the wake of the Court’s recent Dobbs decision, reversing nearly 50 years of law recognizing a woman’s right to choose, and that this has ushered in a far more confrontational and political court. But are both political and legal considerations baked into America’s judiciary by design? We speak with the author of a new biography of former First Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge, Frank M. Coffin, a former member of congress, former USAID official and jurist renowned for his deep understanding of the politics of judging but was able to do so in a manner that privileged comity, cooperation and respect, even in times of profound political disagreement. Hosted by Tim Fadgen. [ dur: 23mins. ]

On this election week, we bring you from our archives this panel discussion on third parties in the United States.

Throughout US history third parties have had a profound impact on policy, governance and voter turnout. So why are we still in a two-party system? [ dur: 35min. ]

This interview was first broadcast in July 2017.

This program is produced by Ankine Aghassian, Doug Becker, Mihika Chechi, Melissa Chiprin, and Sudd Dongre.

Scholars’ Circle – Comments from Latino LA city council members threaten years of Black-Latino Coalition ; Many ways Privatization is an attack on Civil Service roles in the Government – October 23, 2022

Los Angeles is embroiled in a city governance crisis, due to leaked audio highlighting the racism of elected city council members. It has demonstrated that race is still a fundamental problem in the city. We explore race in Los Angeles. Hosted by Doug Becker. [ dur: 34mins. ]

Privatization may undermine safeguards of our constitutional republic. How does privatization amount to what our guest calls a Constitutional Coup? Hosted by Maria Armoudian. [ dur: 24mins. ]

This interview was first broadcast July 2018.

This program is produced by Ankine Aghassian, Doug Becker, Mihika Chechi, Melissa Chiprin, and Sudd Dongre.

Scholars’ Circle – Dark Money in Politics keeps Voters in the Dark – October 16, 2022

Money can distort politics. And the lack of transparency where this money comes from can further distort politics and invite corruption. Since much of the money in campaign finance is not subject to transparency laws, it has taken the name dark money. This specifically references spending by nonprofit organizations created for political spending. How much has dark money skewed American democracy? What role does transparency in spending play in ensuring the legitimacy of democracies? [ dur: 58mins. ]

This program is produced by Ankine Aghassian, Doug Becker, Mihika Chechi, Melissa Chiprin, and Sudd Dongre.

Scholars’ Circle – Brazil Presidential Election – October 9, 2022

Brazil is in the midst of Presidential elections. They reveal the partisanship of the nation, with the current right wing President Jair Bolsonaro trailing the former left wing President Lula after the first round. We will examine what the top issues are, what’s at stake, and whether Brazil could face political violence or even an overthrow of the democracy with partisan stakes not dissimilar to the United States. How difficult it might be for Lula to govern if he does, in fact, win? If Bolsonaro loses, does he leave the presidency? What is the future of Amazonian deforestation? [ dur: 58mins. ]

This program is produced by Ankine Aghassian, Doug Becker, Mihika Chechi, Melissa Chiprin, and Sudd Dongre.

Scholars’ Circle – Conflict Resolution in Post Communist Eurasia and Power of ideas to shape Nation States – October 2, 2022

Regions have the resilience to manage conflicts and ensure they do not spread to other countries. Our guest Anna Ohanyan examines the factors that help build this resilience. She is the author of The Neighborhood Effect: The Imperial Roots of Regional Fracture in Post-Communist Eurasia. [ dur: 30mins. ]

Then, our panel looks at the power of ideas to shape countries, foreign policies, international power structures and the world. [ dur: 28mins. ]

From our archive, originally recorded in December 2012:

This program is produced by Ankine Aghassian, Doug Becker, Mihika Chechi, Melissa Chiprin, and Sudd Dongre.

Scholars’ Circle – Gerrymandering Districts based on Census Data and Inclusive Politics of Rank Choice Voting – September 25, 2022

State legislatures have traditionally controlled districting, with a decentralization of process and decision-making as to how they are drawn. And in recent years, technology has enabled a more complex system of gerrymandering that can challenge the principles of democracy. Indeed it could produce outcomes where the party with fewer votes has control of the democratic institution. How much have voting districts have been gerrymandered and how might it affect the upcoming elections? [ dur: 26mins. ]

Alaska’s recent special election produced a rare win for a Democrat, rather than a Republican for the state’s congressional seat. How much of it had to do with the voting process known as ranked-choice voting? Rank choice voting is meant to produce majoritarian outcomes in elections with multiple candidates. How exactly does this process work? And what are its implications for democracy? [ dur: 32mins. ]

This program is produced by Ankine Aghassian, Doug Becker, Mihika Chechi, Melissa Chiprin, and Sudd Dongre.

Scholars’ Circle – Libyan civil war continues after Gaddafi’s Rule ; Methods for Peace Building – September 18, 2022

We explore the civil war in Libya. Why did it break out and why does it persist? What are possible solutions?  Host: Doug Becker. [ dur: 30mins. ]

Beyond ending war what does it take to make a lasting quality peace?  Host: Maria Armoudian. [ dur: 28mins. ]

Recorded November 22, 2015.

This program is produced by Ankine Aghassian, Doug Becker, Mihika Chechi, Melissa Chiprin, and Sudd Dongre.

Scholars’ Circle – Insight into Ethnic Conflict in Autocratic Uzbekistan and Tajikistan ; Creative Lawyers for Human Rights – September 11, 2022

Protests across Central Asia have rocked the nations of the former Soviet republics of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

The states’ violent suppression of these movements have killed hundreds and undermined human rights protections. We explore the roots of these conflicts and what these violent crackdown mean for human rights, democracy, transparency and peace in the region. [ dur: 31mins. ]

We interview Maria Armoudian who has authored a book on international human rights and the role that lawyers have played at advancing cases against human rights abusers. [ dur: 27mins. ]

This program is produced by Ankine Aghassian, Doug Becker, Mihika Chechi, Melissa Chiprin, and Sudd Dongre.