Hauenstein Center to host 2016 election panel

By Emily Doran | 10/19/16 10:24pm

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GVL / Sara Carte Scott St. Louis (left) and Stephanie Brzezinski (right) work with classmate, Matt Wagenheim during the Hisoty Journal class on Oct. 5.

by 022021012141 / Grand Valley Lanthorn

In an election cycle which has generated a great deal of controversy, opened old political wounds and incited strong sentiments across party lines, the average voter may have questions they wish to ask experts in the field to move beyond the emotion-based rhetoric dominating current issues.

For voters who want to hear what political science scholars have to say about the 2016 presidential election, Grand Valley State University’s Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies will be hosting an election panel with professors from GVSU’s department of political science as part of its Common Ground Initiative.

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GVL / Sara Carte Scott St. Louis, editor in chief of the History Journal class, works with other classmates during class on Oct. 5.

The “Perspectives on the 2016 Election” panel will take place Tuesday, Oct. 25 at 5 p.m. at the Cook-DeWitt Center.

The panel will be chaired by professor Mark Richards, who will ask the commentators questions that relate their work to the issues at stake in the election, giving them an opportunity to speak from their respective areas of expertise. There will also be an opportunity for audience members to ask the panelists questions.

Scott St. Louis, program manager for the Hauenstein Center Common Ground Initiative, believes it’s important for voters to have access to political experts like the panelists at this event.

“Because this election is generating so many different questions, it’s important for an organization like the Hauenstein Center to promote free public access to great intellectual resources that Grand Valley can provide in the form of its faculty and staff,” St. Louis said. “If you don’t study political science, you might not get the chance to interact with these professors.”

Richards hopes audience members will become acquainted with a new way of thinking about the election at this event.

“I would like people to see that it's possible to think analytically about the election,” he said via email. “Partisan interest is great for many people, but as academics, we like to think analytically and understand the election strategically and historically.”

Darren Walhof, a GVSU political science professor and panelist at the event, thinks students should attend in order to help facilitate productive political dialogue.

“Students should attend because reasoned, thoughtful discussion about the election is in short supply right now, but reasoned, thoughtful discussion is critical to the ongoing health of our democracy,” Walhof said via email. “I hope the panel will be an opportunity for students (not) only to inform themselves about the election but also to listen and speak with others about the pressing political challenges our country and world are facing.”

St. Louis said attendees will acquire more substantive information about the election than what they might get from watching the presidential debates or cable news.

“I think people will get out of this event a lot of information that will help them (to) make up their own minds about the direction that they’d like to go, but in a way that’s based on a sound understanding of the political phenomena that are at play here, other than just personality,” he said.

The election panel is free and open to the public, although attendees are asked to register beforehand either online at www.hauensteincenter.org or by phone at (616) 331-2770.

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