Tag Archives: Politics and Activism

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.

Scholars’ Circle – Impact of Union Organizations on Labor Rights in USA – September 4, 2022

In honor of Labor Day weekend, we explore the state of labor in the United States and we take stock in the impact of Union organization in America. We consider some of the high profile labor cases, such as Union organization at Starbucks, Amazon, Apple, and Trader Joe’s.

We also examine labor history and look at the role that race and gender have played in growing the labor movement.[ dur: 58mins. ]

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

Scholars’ Circle – Roots of Goodness and Resistance to Evil – Part II; What is Race and Ethnicity – August 14, 2022

First, we continue our conversation with preeminent psychology scholar Ervin Staub. Last week we discussed how to build peaceful societies, particularly when some groups have been traumatized by violence, war or genocide. Erwin Staub’s latest book is The Roots of Goodness and Resistance to Evil. This is part two of our discussion. [ dur: 33mins. ]

  • Ervin Staub is a Professor of Psychology Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Founding Director of its ​Ph.D. concentration in the Psychology of Peace and Violence.

Then, what is race? How is it distinct from ethnicity? And what do they mean for politics and society? [ dur: 25mins. ]

This show was recorded on June 2015

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

Scholars’ Circle – Regulatory challenges for EPA after West Virginia v. EPA Decision of 2022 – July 17, 2022

The Supreme Court has weakened executive agencies and their ability to regulate and make policy. No agency has been more affected than the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). What is next for environmental protection? [ dur: 58mins. ]

Traditionally, the US Supreme Court has given executive branch agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency quite a bit of latitude at enforcing Congressional legislation. This principle is called Chevron deference. But in this term, the Supreme Court weakened this principle significantly, in particular in the area of environmental protection. In West Virginia v EPA, the Court signaled that the EPA can only enforce on areas specifically outlined by Congress. Specifically, it weakened the agency’s ability to take regulatory steps to combat climate change. We will discuss what this means for the EPA, for public policy, and for the US’s ability to make international commitments on the environment.

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

Scholars’ Circle – We examine post Roe world of Women’s health care – July 10, 2022

Women have lost their constitutional right of bodily autonomy and the right to an abortion in the United States. We discuss the impact of the overturning of Roe v Wade with an emphasis on the future legal struggles, as well as, the social challenge of ensuring reproductive health and equality. How has the discourse around abortion shifted? What has altered about the way we think and talk about abortions and the right to abortions? We look at Crisis Pregnancy Centers and their impact. Also, we explore the role of the federal government. [ dur: 58mins. ]

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