2020 Year in Review: Democracy & Debate Theme Semester
Launched in June 2020, the Democracy & Debate Theme Semester was an unprecedented effort to create opportunities across the institution to engage students, faculty, and staff on an exploration of free speech and exchange of ideas in a year roiled by a pandemic, protests, and a presidential election. From what it means to be a member of a democratic society to democratic engagement from a global perspective, the Ann Arbor campuswide initiative featured numerous conversations and engagement activities for students and the campus community.
Since the university response to the COVID-19 pandemic included a fall hybrid semester, all Democracy & Debate events were conducted virtually. There was a variety of opportunities for the U-M community to participate; discussions included an exploration of the Declaration of Independence, the rising tensions around the elections, civic engagement on campus, and the role of the courts in presidential elections.
Throughout the theme semester, there were nearly 400 social media posts from U-M social media channels, which garnered 3.5 million impressions and led to 14,250 link clicks. Members of the U-M community engaged with the content in a variety of ways, with 65,000 social engagements, 108,000 video views, 6,800 article views, and 2,700 podcast downloads.
See highlights of the Democracy & Debate Theme Semester conversations at the links below:
On Friday, July 3, the University of Michigan held the inaugural Democracy Cafe, We Hold These Truths: Living Up to Our Declaration, A Conversation with Danielle Allen, as a component of the Democracy & Debate Theme Semester launch.
Edie Goldenberg, professor of public policy and political science at the Ford School of Public Policy, discusses the importance of civic engagement, especially among young voters, and details the University of Michigan’s involvement in the Big 10 Voting Challenge.
Two U-M experts in the litigation of election results held a lively conversation to answer those questions during a Democracy & Debate Theme Semester virtual event that took place as ballots were still being counted in several states Wednesday, and President Donald Trump’s campaign was pursuing and filing lawsuits in some states, including Michigan.
Alexandra Minna Stern, Carroll Smith-Rosenberg Collegiate Professor of History, American Culture and Women’s and Gender Studies and Associate Dean for the Humanities in the College for Literature, Science, and the Arts, discusses rising tensions amid the 2020 election.
Michael Traugott, research professor at the Center for Political Studies at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, answered those questions and more during a recent virtual Wolverine Caucus event.