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Analyzing The 2016 Elections


Join us for the Fall 2016 Friday Forum lecture series, "On The Issues: Analyzing the 2016 Elections." This semester's free, public lectures will feature expert views on vital policy questions and shed light on local, state, and national races as they unfold. All Friday Forum lectures are at 12:00pm at the University YMCA in Latzer Hall, unless otherwise noted

September 9 - John K. Wilson, PhD, editor, Illinois Academe
The Myth of Political Correctness: Free Speech, Donald Trump, and the Conservative Attack on Higher Education

For more than two decades, conservatives have accused the left of launching a war of political correctness, censoring opposing views and indoctrinating students on college campuses. Now, Donald Trump has become the presidential nominee proclaiming himself "politically incorrect." What does political correctness mean, and how would Trump re-shape free speech and higher education?

September 16 - Jennifer Walling, Executive Director, IL Environmental Council
The Politics of Climate Change in Illinois

Even in Illinois, a state with Democratic supermajorities in each chamber, there is very little regulation of carbon pollution, the major contributor to climate change. Nationally, Republicans typically refuse to accept or take action on the problem. How can lawmakers be convinced to actually take significant action on this issue before it is too late?

Jen Walling, executive director of the Illinois Environmental Council, will discuss efforts to advance clean energy in Illinois and tackle carbon pollution. While major clean energy policies have passed, there is still much work to do, including the passage of the Illinois Clean Jobs bill.

September 23 - John Gruber, Brady Campaign & Center to Prevent Gun Violence
Preventing Gun Violence in America: Where We Are and The Road Forward 

John Gruber of the Brady Campaign and Center for Preventing Gun Violence will discuss the realities of gun violence and the complexities of it as a public health issue, what is being done to prevent it and what does the future hold for gun violence prevention given where our presidential candidates stand on the issue.

September 30-  Trevor Gervais, Common Cause Illinois
Campaign Finance and Citizens United: What Went Wrong and How Can We Fix It?
On June 21, 2010, five Supreme Court justices made a landmark decision that would change the way campaigns are run and won across the United States. Suddenly individuals and corporations had an avenue to spend unlimited money without transparency or accountability. We will look at the 2016 presidential election, as well as local Illinois races to determine what impact this decision has had on campaigns and voters.
We will also discuss efforts to overcome, circumvent, and overturn the Citizens United decision both in Illinois and across the country. From small donor match programs to constitutional amendments, organizations and candidates are working to change the system. But they don’t necessarily agree on the how to create that change.

October 7 - Fred Tsao, Senior Policy Counsel at the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
The Challenges of Immigration in the 2016 Election and Beyond

Immigration is shaping to be central to the 2016 election as Donald Trump argues in favor of a wall on the Mexican border and a ban on Muslim refugee entry.  How did we get here and what are the implications of this environment for both citizens and immigrants?  And what is the prospect for national immigration reform in the next few years?

October 14 - Robert McChesney, Professor of Communication, UIUC
The Last Election of the 20th Century or the First Election of the 21st Century?

The 2016 presidential election has blown conventional wisdom to smithereens as the establishment of both parties has met entirely unexpected and protracted challenges from their voters. Is this a speed bump on a return to business-as-usual politics for the coming decades or does this mark the beginning of a new and tumultuous era?

October 21 - Matt Motyl, Asst. Prof at UIC and Political Psychologist
The Divided States of America: How Political Polarization is Threatening Democracy
Talk Description TBA

October 28 - Abe Scarr, Public Interest Research Group 
The Battle Over the Ballot: The National Fight Over Voting and Emerging Bipartisan Solutions

The right to vote is one of the most basic, and most contested, rights in American democracy. In recent years, the fight has taken particularly partisan overtones, as some states restrict while others expand access to the ballot. Within this context, we will explore how Illinois is emerging as a national leader in voter registration modernization, and doing so in a bipartisan fashion.

November 4 - Colleen Connell, Executive Director of ACLU, Illinois
Justice Scalia’s Death and What the 2016 Presidential Campaign Means for the Supreme Court
Colleen Connell will discuss the impact of an eight member court and how the court was evenly divided on cases in the 2015-2016 term. Colleen will also talk about SCOTUS decisions on a range of issues including affirmative action, repro rights, rights of public employee unions and voting rights.

Tuesday November 8 - Election Day

November 11 - Joe Minarik and Scott Bidner, Program on Intergroup Relations at UIUC 
Bridging the Divide: Encouraging Civil Discourse Between Differing Political Perspectives
Talk Description TBA

Our generous sponsors of the Fall 2016 Friday Forum Lecture Series are:
American Association of University Women (CU Branch of AAUW), Champaign County Civil Liberties Union, Channing Murray Foundation, Chapel of Saint John the Divine Episcopal Church, Faith In Place, First Mennonite Church, Graduate Employee’s Organization, LGBT Resource Center, McKinley Presbyterian Church and Foundation, Dr. Ann Robin, Social Action Committee of the Unitarian-Universalist Church of Urbana-Champaign, U. of I. Philosophy Department, Urbana Champaign Friends Meeting, Wesley Foundation at the University of Illinois, Wesley United Methodist Church, Women and Gender in Global Perspectives


About: All Friday Forum events, unless otherwise noted, are at 12 Noon in the Y's Latzer Hall, 1001 S. Wright Street, Champaign, IL. All Friday Forum lectures and events are free and open to the public. Friday Forum has been a program for over 80 years at the University YMCA, continually adapting to the times while remaining committed to providing talks that address topics of relevance and urgency in our society.

Questions? Contact Kasey at 217-337-1500 or at



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