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Maria Yuan is the founder of Issue Voter, an organization whose mission is to make civic engagement accessible, efficient, and impactful. We talk about the importance of being informed on the bills before Congress, communicating your priorities and opinions to your representative, and understanding whether your rep is truly representing you.
Our voice matters
Better-informed citizens are better voters
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|Aug 11, 2018|
Rachel Leyland and Dr. Kendra Abel
Rachel Leyland and Kendra Abel are public school teachers in Oklahoma City who participated in the walkout in April of 2018. We discuss how the walkout shed light on the problems caused by chronic underfunding of public education, the power of standing together to demand change, and the importance of supporting pro-education candidates for office.
Support for Public Education Bolsters Democracy
The Power of Civic Action
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|Aug 04, 2018|
Scott Warren is the CEO and co-founder of Generation Citizen, an organization that works to ensure students in the United States receive an effective civics education. We talk about the unique power of political action to bring about change and the need to teach our youngest generations how to be active participants in our democracy.
Political action is still king
The problems in our democracy run deep
Action Civics is an essential part of the answer
|Jul 28, 2018|
Brent Wilkes is the former CEO of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and a lifelong advocate for Latino rights. We discuss what fair and comprehensive immigration could be, the positive impact of immigrant labor in the US economy, and how we can demand sound immigration policy at the ballot box.
Our economy depends on immigrant labor
Immigrants are doing some of the hardest jobs in America for the lowest amount of pay, such as producing food, building houses, and providing care. Labor abuse is common with undocumented workers, as their status makes them particularly vulnerable. Providing a path to legalization for these individuals is the least we can do.
Comprehensive immigration reform
The goal is to help out-of-status residents, those who work hard and contribute to the economy, to get right with the law. Three major focus areas are: the Dreamers, children who were brought to the US by their parents as minors; the agricultural sector, which produces major exports to the rest of the world and is a traditional employer of immigrants; and the rest are laborers in other industries, such as care giving or construction.
Voter turnout is the answer
Immigrants have historically come to America from all over the world to pursue their dreams. We need to remember that our ancestors were once immigrants too, and be more welcoming to those who are pursuing the American dream today. The best way to win on immigration and encourage people to vote is to raise awareness, talk to people who are different than you, and show them that they are included in the process.
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|Jul 21, 2018|
Mark Hetfield is the President and CEO of HIAS, the oldest refugee assistance organization in operation. We discuss our humanitarian obligations to refugees, the tremendous benefits that they bring to American society, and bust the misconceptions about the current refugee situation in the US.
Taking refugees is an act of humanity:
Refugees have escaped persecution, their country, their homes, and their jobs in order to survive. The Refugee Convention of 1951 is an international law that requires countries to give them protection. We bring refugees to the US because it’s a way to protect human rights and our collective humanity.
Refugees are a tremendous positive force:
They are among the most productive members of society because they have lost everything, and they know that they can’t take anything for granted. In the US, refugees have contributed many billions of dollars more than they take in services. Some of our most successful companies, such as Google and Intel, were started by refugees.
We have enormous untapped capacity to resettle refugees:
The US can take in hundreds of thousands of refugees without noticing the impact or the stress. Many faith-based agencies are clamoring to welcome and help more refugees, but the exhaustive and extreme vetting process to enter the country and the cut in funding will result in the resettlement of less than 20,000 refugees in the US this year.
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|Jul 14, 2018|
Paul Lagunes is a Columbia University political scientist whose scholarship focuses on corruption in the Americas. His current book project is Corruption and Oversight: Insights from Field Experiments. We define corruption, discuss how it relates to democracy, and learn that voting is a tool to fight against it.
Corruption is a contingent behavior
The Watchful Eye and the Cracking Whip
How citizens can fight corruption
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Paul Lagunes is a political science and an Assistant Professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. His work has been widely published, and he is currently working on a book titled Corruption and Oversight: Insights from Field Experiments.
|Jul 07, 2018|
Globalists have been willing to stand by while many people were left behind. Elites need to acknowledge their complicity in order to reverse the increasing division between us and them, as well as make clear to people in power that the current version of globalism is not acceptable.
More experiments are necessary:
The only effective way to tackle global issues is to start experimenting around possible solutions, each of us in the ways that we can. There are already many interesting projects ranging from continuing education for workers to flexible employment. Everyone who has the ability to do something on this issue, must do so.
Invest in humans:
The role of the government is to promote equal access to opportunity, so that all people are included in the system. Maximizing profit is not human, but it is capitalist. Injecting humanity into public policies on diverse issues like refugees or free community college will create a society where a gig economy can support families and provide a public good.
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Ian Bremmer is the president and founder of Eurasia Group, and the foreign affairs columnist and editor-at-large at TIME Magazine. His latest book "Us vs. Them: The Failure of Globalism" is a New York Times bestseller that explores the rejection of globalism as an ideology and possible solutions for a more equitable world.
|May 26, 2018|
Shafi Goldwasser is an award-winning mathematician and computer scientist and the Director of the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing at UC Berkeley. Her most notable work is in cryptography and zero knowledge proof. We discuss the promise of cryptography to make our society more secure.
Data privacy and you:
Cryptography is the field that deals with the privacy and correctness of how our information is used. It makes our data more secure, with a range of tools such as encryption, authentication, and verification. Every time we are online, we need to be vigilant about what private information we share and with whom. We should use the tools of cryptography and be careful about giving permissions for apps to access our data.
Algorithmic Fairness and Data Bias:
We have an idea that algorithms are fair because they are machine computations. However, algorithms do no account for actual individuals, so the data is trained with existing societal norms, which can perpetuate unfairness. Data can also be poisoned once people figure out what algorithms are used by tweaking the information in order to get the desired outcome.
We must demand that our personal information is only used in ways that can keep our identity private. There are already collaborative platforms using various encryption methods that are effective for governments and companies to use. “If companies get into trouble because of fiascos having to do with private data you don't just blindly continue supporting them.”
Find out more:
Shafi Goldwasser is the Director of the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing at UC Berkeley, the world’s leading venue for collaborative research in theoretical computer science. She is also the Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, and professor of computer science and applied mathematics at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. She is currently working on the project "Splinter: Practical Private Queries on Public Data".
|May 19, 2018|
Jennifer March is the Executive Director of the Citizen’s Committee for Children of New York. This non-profit and nonpartisan child advocacy organization combines public policy research and data analysis with citizen action. We discuss family homelessness, juvenile justice, and the power of effective advocacy.
Growing up poor likely leads to long term damaging outcomes:
Every child should be guaranteed a prosperous environment with proper access to health care, housing, education, and safe living conditions. Children in poverty often face multiple risk factors such as poor quality housing and low-quality schools.
Effective child advocacy requires a coalition:
A virtuous circle of a large group of people with a common interest is the most effective in pushing for change. Everyone ranging from service providers and beneficiaries, advocates lobbying the government, volunteers writing letters and making phone calls, social media, as well as participants in visible rallies come together to be heard.
A holistic approach:
We need to focus on pragmatic solutions that we know will serve a holistic approach to help provide stability and promote wellbeing, such as a housing subsidy or affordable childcare. Universal systems of early education and healthcare are fundamental building blocks for children to evolve and develop into thriving adults.
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Jennifer March is the Executive Director of the Citizen’s Committee for Children of New York (CCC), a non-profit advocacy organization that works to ensure that every child is healthy, housed, educated, and safe.
|May 12, 2018|
Democratic Congressman Beto O’Rourke represents his hometown, El Paso, TX. Currently a Candidate for US Senate, he is running a people-powered campaign, visiting every single county in Texas and listening to the needs and concerns of the state’s constituents. We talk about how to rebuild our democracy, the necessity of bipartisanship, and how big money corrodes our political process.
Rebuilding democracy from the ground up:
We need representatives who truly represent the people by directly engaging with and listening to their constituents. Removing the power of political action committees (PACs), special interests, and corporations is vital to getting our democracy back and making sure that elected government is responsive to the interests and concerns of human beings.
Work together and set aside differences:
Achieving bipartisan collaboration comes through putting the small differences, including parties, behind us. Compromise is key in being able to pass legislation that will benefit all Americans on issues as diverse as healthcare, the cost of higher education, and immigration.
Big Money corrodes our democracy:
Our representatives are not corruptible on the issues that they really care about, but they often vote along with special interests when they are not experts, and don’t have a specific need to vote a certain way. It’s these little decisions in the aggregate that create dysfunction and disconnect between Congress and the people.
|May 05, 2018|
Ruth Milkman is a sociologist of labor and labor movements, and Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center and at the Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies. We examine the role of unions for workers, the main factors of de-unionization, and the potential leadership by millennials in this space.
It’s safer to speak up as a group:
The purpose of unions is to give workers a collective voice in relation to their employers. They also negotiate contracts and collective bargaining agreements, and promote and defend workers’ concerns in the public and political spheres.
Factors that led to the decline of unionization:
Employer opposition is at the heart of the de-unionization. They have successfully mounted a series of direct attacks against them, such as double breasting in the construction industry. Two other big factors are the decline of manufacturing and deregulation.
The time to engage is now:
Many workers experience precarious labor conditions, such as in retail, where they often don’t know their schedule from week to week and they don’t know how many hours they will end up working. Teachers in non-union states are striking instead of collectively bargaining, which is more disruptive than organizing.
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|Apr 28, 2018|
Robert Hammond is the executive director and co-founder of Friends of the High Line, which was the driving force behind turning an abandoned elevated railroad in New York City into a public park. We discuss the essential role of a city’s public open spaces and how exhilarating it is to pursue your dreams.
Parks are at the intersection of social issues:
Parks have a role in our social issues from economic injustice to education and the environment. A city’s true ingredient is people, and parks allow for the ultimate human experience of people watching, voyeurism, and interacting with others. All communities benefit from having safe, free, and open public spaces.
Get involved in your city:
Community board meetings are open to the public, and they always need people to get involved. They’re only as good as the people who participate. Many opportunities exist to volunteer in your area of interest and expertise.
Go after your dreams:
Pursuing a crazy idea is freeing, fun, and exciting. Perseverance and skepticism are a part of this process. Even if your specific vision does not come true, there is still value in thinking, talking, and organizing around the issue of public open spaces.
|Apr 21, 2018|
Nick Ehrmann is the founder and president of Blue Engine, which was borne from the discovery that the strongest predictor of college completion is sustained academic rigor in high school coursework. The organization re-imagines the classroom in order to teach students how to master core academic skills and be truly ready for college.
Prepare for success
College readiness is defined by the ability to persist and complete degrees. We need to equip students with skills and habits of mind that allow them to have true choice at the cusp of adulthood, whether it is in college, a technical trade school, or the work force.
Education systems need to be designed with the students at the center. Strong, integral, human relationships between educators and students are directly correlated with high levels of academic rigor and success.
Taking action can take many different forms
Get out of your space, fight stereotypes, and challenge your assumptions. Do something where you are informed, proximate, and engaged.
|Apr 14, 2018|
Tyler Ruzich is a 17-year old Republican candidate for governor of Kansas, one of eight teens in the race this year. We discuss what it means to be a Republican of the next generation, why it’s important to get involved now, and what young people can do to become more engaged.
Young people offer fresh perspectives:
We can make better decisions when we are well informed and more educated. Young people bring ideas and perspectives that may not have been considered before. They’re eager to do something and bring authenticity to the table.
Evolve and Change:
Political parties need to shift along with cultural and societal changes. Addressing the issues that are important to young people – LGBTQ rights, gun control, education – is a way to prepare for the future.
Be Responsible, Get Involved:
Take charge, do good, and take accountability for yourself. Serve on a teen council and learn how governmental issues are addressed. Volunteer for a congressional, state, or local race in 2018 or 2020. The best person to fight for the issues that are important to you is you.
Find out more:
Learn about Tyler Ruzich's campaign for governor of Kansas at https://www.ruzichforgovernor.com/
|Apr 07, 2018|
Season 2 Trailer
A sneak peek of our next episode: civic engagement requires no minimum age. Tyler Ruzich, 17-year old Kansan, shows us how.
|Mar 31, 2018|
In the 8th and last episode of Season 1, we discuss the elder boom, and the increasing importance of home care and domestic work in our society.
Award-winning activist Ai-Jen Poo, a leading advocate for domestic workers’ rights and family care, discusses the challenges of the elder boom. She lays out how home care can help us face the coming demographic change and the ways in which we can engage to demand a new Caring infrastructure.
The Care Crisis is Here:
Baby boomers are aging at a rate of 10,000 people per day. This means that 4 million turn 65 every year. The 85 and older demographic is the fastest growing demographic in the country. The demand for care workers is exploding, but we have no program in place to support these people to be able to afford elder care.
Home Care is the Future:
Elders want to age at home. It is cheaper and has better outcomes. Good care giving is the best prevention, which avoids unnecessary and expensive end-of-life hospitalization or institutionalization. We need a Care infrastructure that provides affordable, high quality care for families and creates professional jobs for care workers with dignity, benefits, and a living wage.
Demand a Solution:
Track and follow Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. Create demand by supporting political candidates who are champions for a care agenda. States can be a laboratory for federal policy. Hawai'i passed a family caregiver benefit program in 2017. Maine has a ballot initiative called “Home Care for All” in November.
Find out more:
|Mar 10, 2018|
Andrea Miller (Part 2)
Andrea Miller is the president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health. We talk about the broad support among men for Roe vs. Wade, the Hyde Amendment, and the two most damaging misconceptions about abortions.
This interview belongs to a two-part episode in which we discuss the importance of reproductive rights and why we should engage with this issue for the general welfare of our communities. Listen to the first part here.
Men Are Supportive:
There is no huge gender gap in attitudes and opinions about support for Roe vs. Wade. Men are also outraged by laws that shame, pressure, and punish women who have decided to have an abortion. They care about health and safety, individual rights, and autonomy.
Federal government health coverage does not cover abortion care. This affects a wide range of women from those who work for the federal government or serve in the military to those who receive healthcare through Medicaid and Indian Health Services. The amendment is a rider, which means that it is attached to budget bills every year. We can demand that the rider not be put in.
Have a conversation and bust the myths:
In an environment where people don’t talk about abortions, damaging misconceptions and falsehoods are easy to spread and thus easy to believe. The real attitudes and public opinion are pro-choice. Access to abortion is important to the women who are a part of our daily lives.
Find out more:
|Mar 06, 2018|
Andrea Miller (Part 1)
Andrea Miller is the president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health. We talk about the impact that reproductive legislation has in society and how it’s historically been affected by safety and public health concerns.
This interview belongs to a two-part episode in which we discuss the importance of reproductive rights and why we should engage with this issue for the general welfare of our communities. Listen to the second part here.
Learn the Facts:
Polls show that 80% of the public supports safe, affordable, quality abortion care, as long as it is legal, which it is. The percentage of women who are already mothers and obtain an abortion is 59%. The highest abortion rate is among women who are 20 to 29 years old. A woman spends approximately 30 years of her life trying not to get pregnant.
Treat talking about reproductive rights and health like talking about healthcare issues that affects all families in our communities. One in four women have an abortion in their lifetime. Over 90% of poll respondents say that it should be supportive, safe, and informed by medically accurate information.
There is a divergence between policymakers and the public. Be informed about ballot initiatives to roll back rights and be engaged in the voting booth. Have a direct conversation with your elected representatives and communicate your priorities.
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|Mar 03, 2018|
Joe Hartigan has cracked the code on how to effect change. He is a retired NYC Fire Department lieutenant and community activist since 1995. His passion, dedication, and consistency over many years brought about ferry service for the residents of Rockaway, Queens. Every community would benefit from a fervent advocate like Joe. We can become advocates for our communities by focusing on specific issues, joining forces, and staying persistent.
Showing up and pushing the point helps you to stay focused and keep going. Planning meetings, community board meetings, and conferences are excellent opportunities to speak to officials, share your priorities, and demand accountability.
Use Your Passion:
Pick something that is important to you because not everybody is going to be as committed as you to show up consistently. Be willing to dip into your own pocket. Do your research and become an expert. Learn how others have achieved their civic goals.
Make Your Cause a Political Issue:
Push your civic agenda by highlighting its importance for your community’s citizens. With attention in local elections, there is more likely success for your issue to be addressed.
Find out more:
Joe Hartigan was the driving force behind getting ferry service from Rockaway to Brooklyn Army Terminal and Wall Street, Pier 11. He is also been a tireless advocate for the revitalization of the Rockaway area after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and the Jacob Riis Park in his community.
|Feb 24, 2018|
Roland Augustine is an art dealer, tireless activist, and active member at the Bard College Prison Initiative. We discuss the necessity of finding new ways of activism for social justice in our daily lives.
Be an Advocate:
Civic engagement means becoming an advocate for social equality and social justice. It can begin at the most basic level such as your town or school. You can give hands-on support and/or money to a cause that is important to you. Consistent and rigorous advocacy creates more knowledge and inspire change.
The visual arts can effectively transform one’s thinking. There are many powerful works of art, from paintings to monuments, that serve as beautiful and potent reminders of inhumanity in our collective history.
Use your voice:
Our silence on the world’s humanitarian crises is deafening. Use your voice in your community to start a conversation about what we can do right now. Start with forwarding this podcast to your friends and family.
Find out more:
Roland Augustine is on the board of trustees at Bard College, where he is actively involved in the Bard Prison Initiative, as well as in supporting refugees at Bard College Berlin. He is also an active member of the Equal Justice Initiative in the US.
|Feb 17, 2018|
James R. Doty, MD, is a neurosurgeon and clinical professor at Stanford University. He shows us how to shape our own lives and of those around us by reframing, practicing compassion, and living with an open heart.
Negative talk dominates our narrative. What we tell ourselves manifests in our lives. Positive talk is based on kindness towards oneself.
When you change the way you look at the world, then the world changes the way it interacts with you. Accepting the reality of a situation means that we can be free of reacting with anger. We can be compassionate and kind.
When we are kind and respectful, and treat every human being with dignity, people will bend over backwards to help us. The greatest gifts in life often come through painful events, which give us character, depth, wisdom, and insight.
Find out more:
James R. Doty, MD, is the founder of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University. He is also the author of "Into the Magic Shop", a book about how we can change our lives by practicing compassion and mindfulness.
|Feb 10, 2018|
Richard K. Betts, Ph.D, is the Director of the Saltzmann Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University. We talk about how we can be meaningful stakeholders in foreign policy by voting and supporting political movements.
Vote & Support
We must use our power to vote and support political movements in order to activate fundamental change in our world.
Be an active volunteer in an organization
Historically, the United States has been a country of joiners in various organizations to promote solutions to public policy programs. People joined organizations and devoted their volunteered time in large numbers because it is one of the basic ways in which people indirectly affect bigger issues that they don't feel much direct control over. Don’t take it for granted!
Demand and create a more peaceful future
It's very damaging to the political process when people participate irresponsibly. Make the effort to learn enough to make responsible decisions. Read newspapers, inform yourself, and stay curious about what is going on. Then vote for the candidate that comes closest to your point of view.
Find out more
Richard Betts is the Director of the Saltzmann Institute of War and Peace Studies, and the Director of the International Security Policy Program at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University in New York.
|Feb 03, 2018|
Matt Kalmans is the CEO and co-founder of Applecart, a strategic political consultancy and lab. We discuss the power of voting, how social pressure can influence our actions, and the ways in which science and technology can help us understand our political behavior.
Human communication is the strongest tool for high civic engagement
Most decisions we make on a day-to-day basis are based on what our friends and co-workers tell us. Real life conversations are deeply influental in our political behavior. Social pressure can bring about social change.
Voting is our political power!
Voting is our civic duty and is a matter of public record. Changing behavior from not-voting to voting continues in the long term. Higher voting turnout will lead to radically different people being voted into office. People who are not only solution-oriented, but will also be a better representative of us as a society!
We respond to social pressure for civic duty
People respond to social pressure for higher civic engagement and voter participation. Voting is understood to be a social good, and studies have shown that we respond to social pressure for higher civic engagement and voter participation.
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Matt Kalmans is the CEO and co-founder of Appelcart, a strategic political consultancy and lab that aggregates and processes publicly available online and off-line data with the goal to redefine how political organisations mobilize voters, how nonprofit organisations fundraise or how advocacy groups lobbies elected their officials.
|Jan 27, 2018|
Bernard Harcourt is an author, lawyer, and critical theorist. In our conversation, we discover that civic engagement is a learned skill, the power of collective action, and the importance of remembering our truths and values.
Voting is a learned skill
A study showed that children who experienced the voting process or political conversations with their parents showed more civic engagement. It's a skill that can be learned and should be promoted. Children and young people should learn that they can, how, and where to participate. Civic engagement is a fun, interesting, and important activity.
Civic engagement is our daily bread
Speak with others about political questions and social justice issues. Communicate with a representative or senator -- even if it’s not your own -- and share what we are thinking will influence the way they engage in debates. Writing reflections and thoughts about the political situation in local newspapers or online is another way to engage. And remember to vote. Every vote counts!
Take a step back and remember your truth
Once a day, try to center yourself and go through your comments and thoughts of the day. "Did I say the things that i believe in?" Take a step back and determine what is important, what your values and ethical beliefs are. Then recalibrate life, work, and personal communications in order to reflect your values. It's an important, challenging, and time-consuming process.
Find out more
Bernard E. Harcourt is an author, justice advocate, and critical theorist specialized in social and political theory, the sociology of punishment, and penal law and procedure. He is the Executive Director of the Eric H. Holder Initiative for Civil and Political Rights, and the founding director of the Columbia Center for Contemporary Critical Thought at Columbia University.
|Jan 20, 2018|
A sneak peak of the first episode of Future Hindsight — Bernard Harcourt discusses why and how civic engagement matters.
|Jan 18, 2018|
Future Hindsight Trailer
The Future Hindsight podcast launched on January 20, 2018. Join us for our premier episode where we interview Bernard Harcourt to speak about civic engagement and The Holder Initiative.
|Jan 08, 2018|