New lecture series aims to capture importance of civic participation


Joe Martin

The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership will launch the third season of its “Civic Discourse Project” on Sept. 25, an annual lecture series designed to bring differing viewpoints to Arizona State University to discuss the most pertinent issues of our time. 

The school began the annual lecture series in 2017 to address the challenges confronting American society, by first addressing the theme of free speech and intellectual diversity on college campuses and American society, followed by a series devoted to discussing polarization and civil disagreement

The first two series brought to campus prominent minds, including Jonah Goldberg, Danielle Allen, Robby George and Cornel West, former U.S. Sens. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Tom Daschle (D-SD), and more. Each lecture is also aired on PBS Arizona and is co-sponsored with the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, as well. 

The school’s third season seeks to discuss the possibility of moving beyond polarization and political conflict to civic renewal. The foundation of civic renewal is the willingness of people to participate in the civic institutions at the foundation of American society. This year, the topic will focus on a conversation about what it means to be an active citizen of the United States of America in 2019.

“The primary goal for both the Civic Discourse Project and the most recent season, Citizenship and Civic Leadership in America, is to engage our community in thinking about these crucial ideas,” said Paul Carrese, founding director of the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership. “By hosting these conversations, we are giving ASU students and faculty, as well as the broader community, the opportunity to have a robust but civil debate.”


This year’s fall lineup includes prominent names such as:

  • Robert Putnam, Harvard University sociologist and author of “Bowling Alone”
  • David Leonhardt, columnist for The New York Times
  • Ramesh Ponnuru, senior editor for The National Review
  • Reihan Salam, president of the Manhattan Institute 
  • Tomás Jiménez of Stanford University
  • Daniel Scarpinato, chief of staff for Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey
  • Sarah Elliott, former communications director for David Garcia for Governor
  • Maria Polletta, state government and politics reporter for The Arizona Republic 

The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership will also host its annual Spring Conference on Feb. 28-29. All of the school's events are free and open to the public. To register, visit the school's website