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National Agenda 2017: As We Stand | Divided

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Program Director Lindsay Hoffman reflects on the 2017 season
National Agenda Director Lindsay Hoffman

Dr. Lindsay Hoffman, National Agenda Director, CPC Associate Director, and Associate Professor of Communication and Political Science

Visit the National Agenda 2017 photo album.

As I reflect on my third run as director of the National Agenda speaker series, I’m truly grateful to the speakers, the students, and all who took part in this eye-opening series. We developed the seventh annual edition, “As We Stand | Divided,” with an eye toward revealing the many seemingly insurmountable gaps facing Americans in 2017. But we didn’t stop there. It’s not enough to pull back the curtain on gender, geographic, religious, cultural, and political rifts. At the CPC, we seek to demonstrate and promote civil dialogue for all Americans—even those with whom you may disagree.

NPR journalist Asma Khalid

​NPR journalist Asma Khalid spoke with students in the University of Delaware's National Agenda class on October 4, 2017.

Each fall, nationally known speakers from many different backgrounds visit the University to talk about important issues in today's political landscape, and the series of public events at Mitchell Hall is only one part of the National Agenda program. Earlier in the day, the two dozen students enrolled in the course meet with each speaker, asking questions in an intimate setting.

The National Agenda 2017 students engaged in conversations about topics as varied as how you get your food—as answered by David Joy, a novelist living in Appalachia, who told us he gets about 90% of his food from either hunting or growing his own. Or what it’s like to be forced from your home because of threats made on social media, which happened to the now-Congressional candidate, Brianna Wu. Students also heard a firsthand account from NPR’s Asma Khalid about what it was like to cover the 2016 election as a reporter who is also Muslim. They learned of her resilience to do her job even as she stood on a voter’s doorstep while the homeowner screamed, “Get off my lawn!"

Former Delaware Governor Mike Castle

Former Delaware Governor and Congressman Mike Castle met with the National Agenda students on November 1, 2017.

I received an email from one of my students recently, which read, “Our classroom environment was very comfortable and open, it made me excited to go to class every day. I have learned so much more than just course material from National Agenda. I have a new appreciation for others and a whole new outlook on the world. I wish everyone could take National Agenda, I think it would do the world a lot of good.”

On the last day of class, there were tears of joy and sadness, as the students acknowledged the end of a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Together, they had engaged in classroom discussions about guns and mass shootings, the impact of historical milestones—like the primary process—that have shifted politics in their generation, and the moral foundations that drive our beliefs, values, and behaviors, among many other topics. And, of course, they hung out with former Vice President Joe Biden for three-and-a-half hours over UDairy ice cream! That is not something every UD student can say they’ve experienced.

This was a tumultuous year, and our speakers put forth some controversial perspectives. But they also demonstrated the very real capacity we have to see each other as human beings, rather than as “Democrats” or “Republicans,” “good” or “bad.” In the end, we are All Americans, riding this roller coaster together. As David Joy said in his talk about geographic divides, “You know, where there are going to be two sides and we are not in agreement, I think you have to go into it with a very open mind and your hands like this," holding his two hands together, palms up, open to other perspectives. Equipped with that, I think we can all do the world a lot of good.

About National Agenda
National Agenda 2017 logo

The Director of National Agenda is Dr. Lindsay Hoffman, who teaches Communication and Political Science and is the CPC’s Associate Director. National Agenda is made possible by generous support from the University of Delaware's Office of the Provost. To view previous National Agenda presentations, please visit the University of Delaware National Agenda YouTube Channel.

Held each fall in the auditorium of Mitchell Hall on the University of Delaware's Newark Campus, all events in the National Agenda speaker series are free and open to the community. Please visit the linked event pages below for recaps of each event, including summaries, videos, photos, transcripts, and podcasts.

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National Agenda 2017: As We Stand | Divided
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