PACE kickstarts new lecture series: Democracy Across the Disciplines

By: Abby Bivens

Staff Writer

@abigaillorene

“This is what democracy looks like?!”

This is the question Dr. Sarah Surak posed to the crowd of Salisbury University students, faculty and members of the surrounding community gathered in a Fulton Hall auditorium Monday evening.

Dr. Surak is an assistant professor of both Political Science and Environmental Studies, as well as the Co-Director of the Institute for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement (PACE).  PACE developed the weekly lecture circuit, which was also offered as a one credit course to students.

Dr. Surak hosted a very energetic lecture and involved the audience on numerous occasions.

She asked many thought-provoking questions, such as  “what does it mean to participate in democracy?”, “why do we submit to the government’s authority?” and “why do we organize ourselves in such a way?”.

During the lecture, she traced the origins of Western democracy back to the ancient Greeks and explained how the modern word “idiot”, comes from the Greek term “idiotes”, meaning one who did not exercise their right to participate in the public sphere.

One of the topics that Dr. Surak explored was the decline of democracy.

According to The Economist, the United States has fallen from a “full democracy”, to “flawed democracy” since 2015.  This can be attributed to a growing distrust of the government and decreased voting turnout in the past few decades.

“This is the second iteration of a PACE lecture circuit and IDIS course” PACE Graduate Research Assistant Michael Webber said.

The first series, taking place in the Fall of 2016, was on the topic of race and identity.

Webber is optimistic for the future of this program and said that PACE will continue to offer these lecture circuits and IDIS courses on controversial social topics each fall.

One of the faces in the audience Monday night was Dr. Maarten Pereboom, Dean of the Fulton School of Liberal Arts and advocate for democratic participation.

Dr. Pereboom encouraged SU students to take advantage of their time at the university.  For students looking to become active democratic citizens to hone their viewpoints, and to ask important questions to faculty.

“This is a new stage in many student’s adult lives and for some may be the first time that they are able to vote,” Dr. Pereboom said.

“Democracy Across the Disciplines” meets Monday evenings at 7 p.m. in Fulton Hall, Room 111.

Dr. Erick Rittinger, Political Science assistant professor, will be giving a lecture entitled “When Democracy Doesn’t Work”.  All lectures in this series are open to all SU students as well as the general public, with the next meeting set for Sept. 18.

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