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Episode 110: The tensions between expertise and democracy: An interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci

It seemed like in the first month of the pandemic that the nation could come together for the public good - we could “stay in and stay safe” and that we could put aside partisanship for the sake of public health and safety. As tensions rose with some of the pandemic restrictions and economic pressures alongside, various fault lines appeared across the country. Some of the most significant divides revealed tensions between public health guidance and political voices. In this episode, we talk with Dr. Anthony Fauci about the tensions between expertise and democratic decision-making during the pandemic, and his advice for navigating apathy and misinformation during the next major public health crisis.

Read full episode notes and access episode links here

Episode 109: European democracy at a crossroads: An interview with Minister Counselor Markus Teglas

Germany has a history of being at the center of global debates about democracy. As Europe again finds itself dealing with democracy in crisis, this time with Russia's war against Ukraine, Minister Counselor Markus Teglas asks us to consider Europe again at a crossroads and what Russia's aggression against Ukraine and the rise of right wing populist movements across the continent means for global democracy.

Read full episode notes and access episode links here

Episode 108: Solutions to the campus free speech woes: An interview with ALL IN Democracy Challenge's Stephanie King and JMU Debate

It feels like free speech has become the number one issue confronting higher education today. Campuses are now hotbeds of discontent. Students are sitting in, protesting questionable speakers on campus. State elected officials are dismantling diversity, equity and inclusion programming. So what is being done to address the campus free speech woes? Stephanie King, senior director of strategic initiatives for the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, and Dannise Brown and Adonis Ortiz, members of the Madison Debate Society at James Madison University provide us with some answers to campus free speech issues.

Read full episode notes and access episode links here

Episode 107: Innovations in Teaching Democracy at the Elementary School Level

March 6-10th is National Civics Education Week and on this episode of Democracy Matters, we're exploring youth civic education. We talk with Dr. Stacie Molnar-Main, research associate in civic education and deliberative pedagogy with the Kettering Foundation, and a school climate consultant for the Pennsylvania Department of Education about her research into elementary school's integrating deliberative democracy into the classrooms.

Read full episode notes and access episode links here

Episode 106: What Should Centers for Civic Engagement Do For Higher Education? An Interview with David Kirkpatrick and Kara Dillard

In this episode, Madison Center for Civic Engagement Democracy Fellow Leia Surovell interviews the new interim Executive Director, Dr. David Kirkpatrick and the new interim Associate Director Dr. Kara Dillard about their vision for the Madison Center and their views for what campus Centers for Civic Engagement should do for higher education.

Episode 105: The Invention of Legal Rights

In this episode of Democracy Matters, we speak with Dr. Laura Edwards, a legal historian and professor at Princeton University to discuss how she became involved in her research focused on the 19th century United States, her contributions to civic engagement, what a historian's role is in presenting issues, and her constitution lecture here on campus September 22.

Episode 104: 100% Democracy

In this episode, we discuss 100% Democracy: The Case for Universal Voting with co-authors Miles Rapoport, the Senior Practice Fellow in American Democracy at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School, and E.J. Dionne, Jr. senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a syndicated columnist for the Washington Post, university professor at Georgetown University, and visiting professor at Harvard University.

Read full episode notes and access episode links here

Episode 103: Investing for Democracy

In this episode, Ian Simmons, Co-Founder and Principal of Blue Haven Initiative, discusses impact investing, universal voting, foreign money in U.S. politics, the so-called wealth tax and more on Democracy Matters.

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Episode 102: Talking Back to Power Through Art

In this episode, we talk with Aram Han Sifuentes, a fiber and social practice artist, writer, and educator who works to center immigrant and disenfranchised communities.

Read full episode notes and access episode links here

Episode 100: The Stakes of Difficult Knowledge

In this episode, we talk with Dr. Oren Baruch Stier, Director of the Holocaust and Genocide Studies Program and Professor of Religious Studies in the Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs at Florida International University, about teaching and learning “difficult knowledge” and what the public history of the Holocaust and its memory can teach us about civic engagement and today’s memorial landscape. 

Read full episode notes and access episode links here

Episode 99: Democracy Trends in Africa

In this episode, panelists from the 12th Annual African, African American and Diaspora Studies (AAAD) Interdisciplinary Conference discuss what friends and advocates of Africa should understand about democratic trends on the continent and what they can do to support democracy.

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Episode 98: Opportunity Lost: How We Failed Afghanistan

In this episode, Dr. Samiullah Nuristani, former Head of Policy & Planning in the Office of the Chief of Staff to the President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan discusses his journey as a refugee, and his experiences and expertise on governance in Afghanistan. 

Read full episode notes and access episode links here

Episode 97: Living Up To the Ideals of Democracy Through Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation

In this episode, Dr. Gail Christopher, author of the new book RX Racial Healing, joins us to discuss how we can approach addressing the effects of racism and reimagine more just and equitable economies, societies and democracies.

Read full episode notes and access episode links here

Episode 96: Can Hard Conversations Save Democracy?

In this episode, Christy Vines, President and CEO of Ideos institute, joins us to discuss the importance of empathy ahead of the National Day of Dialogue on January 5, 2022.

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Episode 94: Fighting Political Gridlock Starts with States

In this episode, David J. Toscano discusses the critical need to bring policymakers and people together to solve pressing public problems, especially on divisive issues.

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Episode 93: Advocating Democracy in Africa

In this episode, Tamara White, a research and project assistant in the Africa Growth Initiative at the Brookings Institution, joins us to discuss the state of democracy in Africa.

Read full episode notes and access episode links here.

Episode 92: Political Voices of GenZ

In this episode, Drs. Laurie Rice and Kenneth Moffett, Professors of Political Science at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, join us on Democracy Matters to discuss their new book, The Political Voices of GenZ.

Read full episode notes and access episode links here.

Episode 91: Climate Action Now

In this episode, recorded live as part of Global Climate Change Week, we talk with James Madison University professors Dr. Carole Nash (Integrated Science and Technology), Dr. Tobias Gerken (Integrated Science and Technology) and Dr. Greg Wrenn (English) about the urgent changes that need to happen at the systemic level and impactful ways individuals can contribute to addressing climate change.

Read full episode notes and access episode links here.

Episode 90: Saving Democracy

In this episode, we talk with Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, JMU Health Sciences ‘05, about his experiences fighting for democracy on January 6, 2021. “These people were minutes, seconds, feet away from hanging the Vice President. Just sit with that,” says Officer Dunn.

Read full episode notes and access episode links here.

Episode 89: Democracy's Struggle Against Itself featuring Dr. Kevin Casas-Zamora

Despite the erosion of democracy around the world, Dr. Kevin Casas-Zamora, Secretary General of International IDEA, says “the explosion of civic activism globally in traditionally inhospitable places” is good news.

Read full episode notes and access episode links here.

Episode 85: Connecting Afghanistan's Past and Present

In this episode, Dr. Shah Mahmoud Hanifi, Professor of History at James Madison University, shares his expertise on the history of Afghanistan in order to better understand the present moment.

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Episode 84: Vibrant Inclusive Public Spaces to Strengthen Social Ties

In this episode, David Trouille, an Associate Professor of Sociology at James Madison University, discusses his new book, Futbol in the Park: Immigrants, Soccer, and the Creation of Social Ties.

Read full episode notes and access episode links here

Episode 79: The 26th Amendment at 50: Racial Justice and Youth Political Power

In this episode, we talk with Carolyn Quilloin Coleman who started her activism work as a teenager protesting segregation in Savannah, Georgia. In April 1969, she organized the NAACP-sponsored Youth Mobilization conference in Washington, D.C. The gathering brought together 2,000 young people from 33 states to lobby Congress in support of youth voting rights.

Read full episode notes and access episode links here.

Episode 71: Can We Make Elections Fair?

In this episode we talk with Dr. Jon A. Krosnick from Stanford University about how we can make elections fairer.

Read full episode notes and access episode links here.

Episode 64: Divergent Access and the Future of Voting Rights

In the wake of the Supreme Court's Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee ruling, we are left asking what is a usual or unusual burden to voting and which voting restrictions might be more or less vulnerable to legal challenge. We talk with Michael Burns, the National Director for Fair Elections Center’s Campus Vote Project, about the history of voting rights and the implications of the Supreme Court’s decision on voting access and rights.

Read full episode notes and access episode links here.

Episode 63: Durable Policy Solutions to the Humanitarian Crisis in Central America

Julio Rank Wright, Deputy Regional Director for Latin America at the International Rescue Committee (IRC), joins us to discuss the growing humanitarian crisis in northern Central America (El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala) that continues to force thousands of people to flee for safety in neighboring countries and the United States, and durable policy solutions to address the crisis.

Read full episode notes and access episode links here

Episode 62: Moving Beyond the ‘Band Aid on Wound’ Approach to Refugees

For World Refugee Day, we talk with Jana Mason, Senior External Relations Advisor at the Washington, D.C. office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR—the UN Refugee Agency) about the root causes of forced migration and the global refugee crisis, and what we can do to take action on important issues facing refugees.

Read full episode notes and access episode links here

Episode 61: Pulling Democracy Back from the Brink

In this episode, we talk with Congressman John Sarbanes about what it will take to secure voting rights for every American and restore confidence in elections and government.

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Episode 60: Free the Press

In this episode of Democracy Matters, we talk with Jim Acosta, CNN anchor for weekend programming and the network's chief domestic correspondent, about the critical role of a free press as necessary noise in a functioning democracy.

Read full episode notes and access episode links here.

Episode 59: Can transparency, oversight, ethics and accountability save American democracy?

In this episode we talk with Walter Shaub, who leads the Ethics and Accountability Initiative at the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), about what elected and other government officials and the public can do to create and implement long-lasting reforms to shore up the barricades against authoritarianism.

Read full episode notes and access episode links here.

Episode 58: Is Big Government Back?

"America is on the move again,” declared President Joe Biden in a joint session of Congress on April 28, 2021 and on the eve of the 100th day of his administration. In this episode, Caitlin Tully, a first-year Finance major in JMU’s College of Business, moderates a discussion with economic policy experts Flint Engelman, Americans for Prosperity, and Ben Ritz, Director of Progressive Policy Institute's Center for Funding America’s Future about the presidential administration’s economic policy priorities and impacts on Americans.

Read full episode notes and access episode links here.

Episode 57: Can We Stop Climate Destruction?

The theme of Earth Day 2021 is action on Climate Change. In this episode, we talk with Dr. Tobias Gerken, assistant professor in the School of Integrated Sciences and Technology at JMU whose research focuses on environmental and atmospheric science. He explains some of his novel research on land–atmosphere coupling and feedback and with NASA’s project on Atmospheric Carbon & Transport and the Department of Energy’s GreenOcean Amazon project. Dr. Gerken shares how this research impacts our understanding of climate modeling, the extent of environmental destruction from climate change, and advice for policymakers for making informed decisions about climate policy.

Read full episode notes and access episode links here

Episode 56: How Can Women Realize Their Full Political Potential?

We talk with Dr. Kira Sanbonmatsu, Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University and Senior Scholar at the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) at the Eagleton Institute of Politics, about breaking barriers to women’s representation in policy and decisionmaking processes, and the impact of women realizing their full political potential.

Read full episode notes and access episode links here

Episode 55: Ungoverned and Out of Sight

In this episode, we talk with Dr. Charley Willison, a National Institutes of Mental Health Postdoctoral Fellow at the Harvard University Department of Health Care Policy, about the politics and governance of homelessness in the United States and what can be done to address the national homelessness crisis.

Read full episode notes and access episode links here

Episode 54: How Can Parties Bring More Women Into Power & Politics?

In this episode, we talk with Dr. Kristin Wylie, associate professor of political science at James Madison University, about political violence against women, the state of women’s political representation and participation, and reforms to address structural barriers that prevent women from running and serving in office.

Read full episode notes and access episode links here.

Episode 53: Does The President Have a Mandate?

Dr. Julia Azari, associate professor of political science at Marquette University, joins us to discuss the logic of presidential mandates, achieving policy and legislative agendas, government responsiveness and collective representation.

Read full episode notes and access episode links here.

Episode 52: Insurrection as a civically responsible form of social change

In this episode, we talk with Ethan Zuckerman, associate professor of public policy, communication and information at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, who argues that rather than rebuilding trust in institutions, we should question whether institutions are worthy of our trust. We can either work to make our existing institutions better, or we can recognize that they’re no longer fit for purpose and build new ones in their stead.

Read full episode notes and access episode links here.

Episode 51: Insurrection and Sedition Explained

In this episode of Democracy Matters, James Madison University History and Political Science faculty experts explain the ongoing insurrection, and help us understand the events of January 6, 2021, the complicity of the president of the United States, and efforts to undermine American elections, and democratic norms and institutions.

Read full episode notes and access episode links here.

Episode 50: 'Democracy Is an Act'

In an essay published posthumously, civil rights icon and Member of Congress John Lewis, wrote, “Democracy Is Not A State. It Is An Act.” The team at the James Madison Center for Civic Engagement reflects on 2020 and our nonpartisan efforts to promote informed electoral participation, ensure a complete count in the 2020 Census and create opportunities for people to learn about and take on action on the problems they care about most. The team also shares what more they would do to strengthen democracy. 

2020 Team: Abe Goldberg, Carah Ong Whaley, Logan Zeigler, Angelina Clapp, Diego Salinas, Sarah Gully, Emily Baker, Anna Connole, Charlie Conner, Kyle Ford, Nadia Khaydari, Nikki Oppenheimer, Drew Persinger, Ryan Ritter, Katrina Tilley, Mary Tolentino, Kyel Towler, and Katelyn Waltemyer

Episode 49: From chaos to compassion: A new era for immigration?

Relying on executive authority and issuing 400 executive actions on immigration, the Trump adminsitration implemented policies on a wide range of immigration issues, touching on everything from asylum to deportation policy, refugee resettlement, and admissions from certain majority-Muslim countries.

In this episode, we talk with Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, Policy Counsel at the American Immigration Council about immigration law and policy and what to expect under the Biden administration. Full episode notes and links:

Episode 48: Democracy Is Not Static

Dr. Melinda Adams, Associate Dean of JMU's College of Arts and Letters, discusses democratic transitions, what to expect in policy approaches to Africa under the Biden administration, women's political representation globally, and more. Full episode notes and links:


Episode 47: No Power Superior to the People

Is the United States a democracy? Is representative government failing the American people?  

In this episode, we talk with former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel about how bringing the people directly into the operations of government as deliberative lawmakers might make the United States more democratic.

Episode 46: Compromise Is Fruitful and Conflict Is Destructive

How are election-related legal challenges impacting democratic practices and processes? Should we be concerned about how legal challenges made by President Trump’s campaign to challenge results in key states combined with the spread of false information and unfounded claims of fraud might undermine trust in elections and political institutions? Why can efforts to deter fraudulent voters make matters worse? How should we be thinking about rights to give and spend money in connection with elections? And how can so called “culture war” cases be adjudicated in courts?

In this episode, we talk with election legal expert, Dr. Michael Gilbert, the Martha Lubin Karsh and Bruce A. Karsh Bicentennial Professor of Law, and Director of the Center for Public Law and Political Economy at the University of Virginia.


Episode 45: Distrust of News, Divergent Sources, Doom Scrolling & Democracy

How have changes in the media ecosystem impacted knowledge of issues and informed participation in elections? How did media coverage of the 2020 elections compare to 2016? Why is there so much distrust in the news media? How does the current mediascape with the ability to pick and choose from divergent news sources impact the ability of Americans to distinguish credible information from misinformation, disinformation and propaganda? And how has the rise of social media impacted elections? 

In this episode, we talk with JMU Professor of Political Science Dr. David Jones about the implications of the media for democratic participation, practice and governance. Dr. David A. Jones teaches courses and conducts research in U.S. politics, particularly in the areas of elections and media.

Episode 44: Achieving Health Equity

In this episode, we talk with Dr. Linda Plitt-Donaldson, Associate Dean of College of Health and Behavioral Studies and Director of the Institute for Innovation in Health and Human Services at James Madison University, and with Dr. Laura Merrell, Assistant Professor in Health Sciences, about the social determinants of health and why everyone should care about health equity.

Episode 43: Diversity and Democracy Through Higher Education

What are some of the greatest challenges emanating from federal policy for institutions of higher education? How can institutions of higher education do better to reckon with their own histories of racial inequity and racial injustice? In this episode of Democracy Matters, we talk with Dr. Mildred García, president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) and with Jonathan Alger, president of James Madison University, about the role of higher education in advancing diversity and democracy, and higher education’s special responsibility to contribute meaningfully to the communities in which they are situated.

Episode 42: The Supremes and Elections

Leading up to the 2020 elections, there are over 260 lawsuits in the courts about who can vote, when ballots can be cast and by when they must be counted. In this episode, we talk with SCOTUSblog reporter and Supreme Court expert Amy L. Howe about the litigation arms race, the role of the Supreme Court in voting rights and election law, how trust in political institutions might be undermined by all the legal challenges and their timing this year, how the Supreme Court can ensure that the election litigation process isn’t hijacked for partisan political aims, and how the confirmation Amy Coney Barrett to be the 115th U.S. Supreme Court justice could impact elections. Howe also shares how Zoom has impacted coverage of the Supreme Court.

Episode 41: Turtles Riding Dogs: The Politics of Civil Discourse on Campus and Beyond

What does civil discourse mean to students? How can we have hard conversations in such a divisive political climate when the stakes are so high? In this episode, we talk about the politics of civility on campus and beyond with JMU students Wyatt Blevins (Political Science and Public Policy and Administration, '22), Chairman of the College Republicans; Robert Gruberger (History and Political Science, '22), Young Democratic Socialists of America at JMU; and Emily Baker (Political Science and English, '21), Campus Vote Project, Democracy Fellow.

Episode 40: Making Virginia the Burger King of Voting

In this episode of Democracy Matters, students in our Elections 2020 class interview Chris Piper, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Elections, about how the pandemic has affected election administration this year; historic levels of absentee and early voting; partnering with federal agencies and other states to combat foreign interference; and how litigation will affect when we know election results.

Episode 39: More Democracy is Better Democracy

How should we view the 2020 elections in the broader arc of American political history? What are some key questions we should be considering for governance in the wake of such a divisive election? What role does morality policy play in electoral politics? And what is the state of our political parties? In this episode, we dive into these questions and more with JMU Political Science faculty Dr. Marty Cohen and Dr. Kathleen Ferraiolo.

Episode 38: Local Action for Global Impact on Climate Change

As part of Global Climate Change Week encouraging academic communities to engage with each other, their communities, and policy makers on climate change action and solutions, we talk with Tom Benevento, co-founder of Vine and Fig about the 50 By 25 campaign working toward a clean, just energy transition in Harrisonburg. Read the full episode notes with links here.

Episode 37: The Other Madisons: The Lost History of a President’s Black Family

“Always remember—you’re a Madison. You come from African slaves and a president.” Dr. Bettye Kearse joins us for a discussion about her new book, The Other Madisons: The Lost History of a President’s Black Family.

Full episode notes here.

Episode 36: Election Emotions and What We Can Do About Them

Are you feeling anxious, fatigued, worried, angry or hopeful about the election? In this episode we talk with Dr. Benjamin Blankenship, assistant professor of Psychology at James Madison University about what drives election emotions and what we can do to cope.

See the show notes with links mentioned in this episode at

Episode 35: #LetHerSpeak

This episode features the audio from JMU Civic's virtual town hall with Libertarian Party presidential candidate Dr. Jo Jorgensen. We discuss a range of issues including the size and role of the federal government, military and national defense, healthcare, immigration, COVID-19 pandemic, criminal justice reform, the environment and more.

See the show notes with links mentioned in this episode at

Episode 34: Is Vote by Mail the Solution to Safe, Accessible Elections?

Amidst the COVID-19 public health crisis, many are pondering how we can have safe, secure elections this year while also ensuring access. In this episode, we talk with Michael Pfeifer, a voting rights and political law attorney who says the key is to vote by mail. "The USPS has got this," says Pfeifer.

See the show notes with links mentioned in this episode at

Episode 33: The American Presidency in Trouble and What Voters Can Do

"The American presidency is in trouble," says CBS News correspondent John Dickerson in his new book, The Hardest Job in the World: The American Presidency. "It is overburdened, misunderstood, an almost impossible job to do." In this episode we talk with John about how expansive the presidency has become from what was initially intended for the institution and its responsibilities, and why no individual president can possibly live up to the expectations for the office. We also discuss the 2020 election and whether President Donald J. Trump has changed and reinvented the presidency.

See the show notes with links mentioned in this episode at

Episode 32: What Miner Bo's Campaign Can Tell Us About Democracy

It's probably safe to say that Bo Copley never expected to run for U.S. Senate. A lifelong resident of Mingo County, West Virginia, Copley worked in the coal industry for 11 years until he was laid off on September 18, 2015. In this episode of Democracy Matters, we talk with Director and Producer Todd Drezner about The Campaign of Miner Bo, which documents Bo Copley's bid for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 2018.

See the show notes with links mentioned in this episode at

Episode 31: On Becoming a Hotbed of Democracy

Virginia has historically been one of the worst states for voting access and for voter disenfranchisement. In the late 1940s, the great historian of southern politics V.O. Key said of the Commonwealth: “By contrast, Mississippi is a hotbed of democracy.”

In this episode, we talk with Virginia House of Delegates Representative Schuyler VanValkenburg about civics education, changes in Virginia voting laws, vote-by-mail, redistricting reform on the ballot this November and more.

See the show notes with discussion questions and links mentioned in this episode at

Episode 30: Why Isn't Democracy Working For Everyone?

In his new book, Democracy in One Book Or Less: How It Works, Why It Doesn't, and Why Fixing It Is Easier Than You Think, David Litt addresses some of the most pressing challenges facing democracy, including partisan rancor, gerrymandering, campaign finance, voter suppression, political corruption, the legislative filibuster and how people are represented (or not) in our political system. David especially focuses on voting rights, and how efforts over time to suppress voting rights based largely on race, ethnicity, and class have led to socioeconomic and political inequalities we see today.

See the show notes with links mentioned in this episode at

Episode 29: Athletlics and Social Justice

This episode features a conversation with Semaj Sorhaindo, JMU Football Student-Athlete; Nikki Oppenheimer, JMU Women's Basketball Student-Athlete; Arthur Moats, JMU alumn and linebacker for the Buffalo Bills, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Arizona Cardinals; Ta' Frias, JMU Track and Field Head Coach; Jeff Bourne, Director of Athletics, James Madison University; and Roger Soenksen, Faculty Athletic Representative and Professor in JMU School of Media Arts and Design about the role and agency of athletes, teams and athletic organizations in addressing racial injustice, systemic racism, and creating a more just and inclusive society and democracy.

See the show notes with links mentioned in this episode at

Episode 28: Antiracism and Black Agency Through Arts

In this episode we hear music, spoken word, poetry, and discussion about the role of arts as a means for education, agency and expression of antiracism and racial equity.

See the show notes with links mentioned in this episode at

Episode 27: Moving Beyond Lesser of Two Evils: A path to a fairer and more functional democracy?

Have you ever felt like you were wasting your vote on a candidate because you could only choose one candidate on the ballot and wondered if there is a better way? In this episode, we talk with Deb Otis, Senior Research Analyst in the Law and Policy Department at Fair Vote, about Ranked choice voting (RCV). RCV describes voting systems that allow voters to rank candidates in order of preference, and then uses those rankings to elect candidates who best represent their constituents.

Episode 26: Justice As a House: When the Studs are Rotten, Paint Won't Fix It

The recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery have brought attention to the racist policies and systems that engender violence (both sudden and systemic, physical and attitudinal) against Black people in the United States. The current protests are not just in response to these most recent killings – they are in response to the systemic racism that is woven through our society. In this episode, we are featuring remarks from JMU Civic's live streamed town hall on Wednesday June 3 about ending systemic racism and creating a more inclusive campus, democracy and society.

See the show notes with links mentioned in this episode at

Episode 25: UniverCity of Refuge

We are experiencing a global migration and refugees crisis with nearly 71 million people who have fled their homes worldwide, the highest number since World War II. In this episode, we talk about the crisis and what can be done about it with Dr. Diya Abdo, founder of Every Campus a Refuge, Dr. Jamie Williams, associate director of JMU's Community Service-Learning, and Nadiya Khaydari, a junior at JMU majoring in Political Science and Economics and a Senator in the Student Government Association.

See the show notes with links mentioned in this episode at

Episode 24: New Politics in the Old Dominion?

In this episode, we talk with Virginia State Senator Scott Surovell (JMU, '93; UVA Law, '96), the Senate Democratic Whip, about what happened in the 2020 legislative session, election reform, options for voting during the pandemic, and redistricting reform on the ballot in November 2020.

See the show notes with links mentioned in this episode at

Episode 23: The World Needs U.S.-China Cooperation

As headlines declare relations between the United States and China have sunk to a new low, we talk with China expert and James Madison University Political Science Professor Dr. Edward Yang about how the COVID-19 crisis is impacting China-U.S. relations, and what can be done to improve and reinvigorate diplomacy between China and the U.S.

See the show notes with links mentioned in this episode at

Episode 22: Civic engagement, social distancing, and democracy reform

Democracy is very much a collective activity. Inside, we come together to debate, discuss, do the work of government, and make laws. Outside, we protest and hold rallies. But much of this is not possible. Social distancing presents a tremendous challenge. In this episode from The Democracy Group podcast network, we look at the barriers and the opportunities as we all deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

See the show notes with links mentioned in this episode at

Episode 21: Counting for Community Resilience: Census in the Time of COVID

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Census faced serious challenges to achieving a complete and accurate count because of politics, budget restrictions, employing new technology and because social media amplifies the spread of misinformation and disinformation. The global public health crisis has thrown into sharp relief the importance of a complete count, including: ensuring accurate representation in governmental institutions, having accurate data for healthcare infrastructure and emergency preparedness, and access to funding communities desperately need. In this episode of Democracy Matters, we talk with Jonathan Derks, Kearstin Kimm, Tristan Thorgersen, and Abby Wallen about their work this semester to reach hard-to-count communities.

See the show notes with links mentioned in this episode at

Episode 20: Protecting Democracy During Pandemic

As more states prepare for primaries and as the nation plans for the November 2020 general elections, how should candidates approach campaigning and how should elections be administered during a pandemic? What is the role of the media and what will matter most to voters when they cast their ballot in November? In this episode, we talk with Dr. Larry Sabato, Robert Kent Gooch Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia and director of the Center for Politics about the fundamental need to ensure voters have a voice in government by deciding who governs even during a pandemic.

See the show notes with links mentioned in this episode at

Episode 19: Leadership in a Time of Global Crisis: Serving the campus, community and beyond

In this episode, we have an in-depth conversation with James Madison University President Jonathan R. Alger about what kind of leadership is needing during a global crisis and what it has been like to make important decisions on big matters with incomplete information at an unprecedented pace - from reorganizing courses for distance and online learning to responding to local community needs.

See the show notes with links mentioned in this episode at

Episode 18: Tearing the Veil From the Bottom Up: Civic Engagement thru Hip-Hop

In 1897, W.E.B Du Bois wrote, 'Then it dawned upon me with a certain suddenness that I was different from the others; or like, mayhap, in heart and life and longing, but shut out from their world by a vast veil." In this episode, we talk with Dr. Jarrit Ahmed Sheel, Assistant Professor of Music Education at Berklee College of Music, who spent a week as the College of Visual and Performing Arts Cultural Connections Artist in Residence at JMU. Like Du Bois, Jarrit Ahmed Sheel also combines history, philosophy and music to deeply engage his students and audiences in efforts to tear down veils of exclusion and marginalization, whether they're race-based or class-based.

See the show notes with links mentioned in this episode at

Episode 17: Is Civility a Cure for the Dysfunctions of Democracy?

What do high levels of distrust and socioeconomic and political inequality portend for democracy and civility? In this episode we talk with Dr. Robert Talisse, W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University about what civility is and why it fails.

See the show notes with links mentioned in this episode at

Episode 16: Evaluating Political News in an Election Year

In this episode, we talk with JMU School of Media Arts and Design Assistant Professor Ryan Alessi about the best strategies for evaluating political news stories in a hyperpartisan election year.

See the show notes with links mentioned in this episode at

Episode 15: Banking on Civic Learning

Community banks are vital to the American economy and society. In this episode, we talk with JMU College of Business Finance Professor Dr. Carl Larsson, and with Katie Jarrett, a senior in the School of Media Arts and Design and Corinne Barbieri, a senior Finance major, who are members of JMU's Banking Team.

See the show notes with links mentioned in this episode at

Episode 14: Plan, Do, Check and Prove: Educating for Democracy on Campuses and Beyond

In this episode, we talk with Ian Simmons, the Founder and President of the Foundation for Civic Leadership and a member of the Madison Center's advisory board, about best practices and promising projects for enhancing democracy.

See the show notes with links mentioned in this episode at

Episode 13: Talkin 'bout the Revolution: What we can learn from women breaking barriers in early America

History doesn't always move toward the inclusion of groups. Sometimes rights can be lost as well as gained. Take, for example, the American Revolutionary period, which created opportunities for women to participate in politics. By 1828, however, women's politicization was seen more as a liability than as a strength, and contributed to a divisive political climate that brought the country to the brink of civil war. In this episode, distinguished American historian Dr. Rosemarie Zagarri joins us to discuss her path-breaking research in early American political history and why we need to have a grasp of the past to defend the rights of those who may be vulnerable to disenfranchisement.

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Episode 12: The Ballot Box: The Only Place Where Jeff Bezos and the Janitor of McDonalds Are Equal

Although there have been many advancements since the passage of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, there is much to be done to improve the status of women, including among other things: ending sex-based discrimination, improving maternal mortality rates for black women, ensuring equal pay for equal work, increasing protections for the LGBTQ+ community, and addressing challenges faced by veterans and those who live in poverty. In this episode of Democracy Matters, we play a recording of Constitution Day speaker Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy, who discussed the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and answered questions from JMU students. Foy was the first public defender to ever serve in the Virginia General Assembly and now devotes her time as an attorney advocate representing abused and neglected children in court. Additionally, Delegate Foy was one of the first African-American women to graduate from Virginia Military Institute.

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Episode 11: Women Breaking Barriers: A Timeline

2019-2020 marks the 100th anniversary since the passage and ratification of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution which articulated that, "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex." The 19th amendment was the result of centuries of activism and contributions from many social movements to ensure through the highest law of the land a "right through which all other rights could be secured." But as suffragist leader Frances Harper observed in 1893, "I do not think the mere extension of the ballot a panacea for all the ills of our national life. What we need to-day is not simply more voters, but better voters." Kearstin Kimm, a senior Computer Science major at James Madison University, spent her summer as a Democracy Fellow at the James Madison Center for Civic Engagement researching the history of women's rights in what we now know as the United States and the 19th amendment. Using her knowledge and technical expertise, she created a comprehensive timeline beginning in 1619 up to present day. In this episode, Kearstin discusses the timeline, which includes entries related to progress and challenges to the status of women, with photos and links to primary source documents. Women Breaking Barriers: A Timeline

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Episode 10: Inclusive Music and the Value of 'Being With'

What is inclusion and how can inclusive music contribute to a culture of democratic engagement through authentic experiences of participatory musicking? JMU's Center for Inclusive Music Engagement is facilitating innovative opportunities for all persons-particularly those are often marginalized in institutional music education contexts-to create, perform, respond, and connect with, in, through, and around music in ways they find meaningful. In this episode we talk with Dr. Jesse Rathgeber, an assistant professor of music education at James Madison University and associate director of the Center for Inclusive Music Engagement, and with Emily Veramessa, who graduated from JMU in 2019 with a degree in music education and is now the inaugural Engagement Fellow at the Center. JMU Center for Inclusive Music Engagement JMUke Jesse Rathgeber's scholarship, musicianship and engagement Emily Varamessa's scholarship, musicianship and engagement.

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Episode 9: Beyond the Lens: Justice Through Photography

From Richmond to the West Bank, from Kentucky to Tanzania, photography has the potential to communicate lived experiences and complex social issues to those in power. In this episode, we talk with internationally acclaimed photographer Wendy Ewald about her work in Virginia and beyond using photography as a collaborative process to strengthen democracy. Ewald has spent more than 40 years collaborating with children, families, and teachers all over the world. In her work, she encourages her collaborators to use cameras (as well as using the camera herself) to record themselves, their families and their communities, and to articulate their fantasies and dreams. Ewald often has them mark or write on her own negatives, thereby challenging the concept of who actually makes an image. Wendy's website Literacy and Justice through Photography JMU's Center for Creative Inquiry (formerly known as Institute for Visual Studies) In Peace and Harmony: Carver Portraits

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Episode 8: So Much Noise and No One Needs A Broadcast Message

Student attention is a scarce commodity. What are the best opportunities for capturing student attention to engage them in civic learning and democratic engagement? In this episode we talk with Jennifer Domagal-Goldman, Executive Director of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge, and Michael Peshkin, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Northwestern University. As a first step to deeper engagement in civic life, Northwestern University registers every incoming student to vote during orientation, and voter registration exceeds 96%. The institutionalization of voter registration began with a Mechanical Engineering professor and students. The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge encourages higher education institutions to help students form the habits of active and informed citizenship, make democratic participation a core value on their campus, and cultivate generations of engaged citizens who are essential to a healthy democracy. ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) Northwestern: Student Voter Registration Exceeds 96 Percent (video) How one university teaches its students to vote (and it's old-school) by Kim Castle, Janice Levy and Michael Peshkin The Cost of Convenience: An Experiment Showing E-Mail Outreach Decreases Voter Registration by Elizabeth Bennion (Indiana University) and David Nickerson (Notre Dame)

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Episode 7: Bring on the Democracy Midwives!

John Dewey said that "Democracy has to be born anew every generation, and education is its midwife." Although people who go to college are slightly more likely to vote, their participation in other forms of political engagement are actually slightly depressed. There is more we can do in both academic AND student affairs to really make a difference in preparing students to be actively engaged in democracy. In this episode, we speak with Dr. Elizabeth Bennion, Political Science Professor and founding director of the American Democracy Project at Indiana University South Bend, and Andrew Lardie, Associate Director for Service and Leadership at the McKeen Center for the Common Good at Bowdoin College.

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Episode 6: The SOUL of Campus Civic Life

Academic communities can be major drivers of civic engagement and critical thought around major issues. JMU Senior Ethan Gardner talks with Anna Williams and Yeimy Gamez Castillo, two students from the Rutgers-Newark University Honors Living Learning Community who attended the 2019 Civic Learning and Democratic Engagement Conference. Their conversation covers a variety of important topics on how academics can be infused with civic engagement initiatives. Additionally, they discuss the inspiring specific projects undertaken by Anna, who created a student union to facilitate communication and action in connection with the Student Governing Association, and Yeimi, who put together multiple public art initiatives to provide a platform for community members to share their stories on pressing issues. This episode is moderated and focused on the work of students.

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Episode 5: Don't Cook Tonight! Call Ceola. Or How to Build Non-Colonial University-Community Partnerships with a Blue Hair Brigade

Communities around the world are demanding full participation in every step of the research process, from identifying the issues to be looked at, to prioritizing them, to developing the research design, to creating the instruments used to collect the data, to being involved in the analysis of the data and in the development of policy prescriptions. As a result, increasingly university-based researchers are finding that a collaborative or participatory approach in which they co-investigating with the people most deeply impacted by a policy or issue is the only way they can proceed to do their work. Otherwise they can't get the cooperation of the people who are the source of the most important knowledge and insights. Dr. Kenneth Reardon, Professor of Urban Planning in the School for the Environment and Director of Urban Planning and Community Development at University of Massachusetts Boston talks about advancing student civic learning, conducting community-based research, fostering reciprocal partnerships, building institutional commitments to engagement, and enhancing higher education's contributions to the public good. He also talks about his work with the Blue Hair Brigade on the East St. Louis Action Research Project, which is the subject of his new book, Building Bridges: Community and University Partnerships in East St. Louis. Order the new book from Social Policy Press or on Amazon.

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Episode 4: Beware the Shrinking Imagination!

Two questions animate our work: What if? How so? The work of imagining is something we should take very seriously in civic engagement. It's difficult to engage our senses in this difficult and academic work and the shrinking imagination stifles our work. Professor Tim Eatman, Dean of the Honors Living-Learning Community and Associate Professor of Urban Education in the College of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University, discusses the five senses to engage in the work of imagining: hope, history, passion empathy, planning.

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Episode 3: Bringing Democracy to Life

From teaching information literacy, to providing community gathering spaces, to fostering access to information, to connecting people with each other, and more, James Madison University Librarians Kristen Shuyler and Liz Chenevey discuss their research about how libraries of all types in Virginia and across the country support democracy and the civic life of their communities.

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Episode 2: Real Democracy Needs Everyone's Perspectives

Dr. Barbara Schaal, Dean of Arts and Sciences and Mary-Dell Chilton Distinguished Professor Professor of Biology at the Washington University in St. Louis discusses the importance of a liberal arts education, and of including science and scientific expertise in policy and decision-making processes to strengthen democracy.

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Episode 1: A Place to Start: Conversation with Professor, Artist, Community Organizer Pato Hebert

Artists use so many different mediums to comment on their surroundings, some use it as an opportunity to make a statement on current events and government action. Photographer and activist, Pato Hebert, sits down with us to discuss art's undeniable place in the conversation about democracy.

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