Zócalo Public SquareUp For Discussion – Zócalo Public Square http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org Ideas Journalism With a Head and a Heart Fri, 24 Nov 2017 08:01:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8 The Many Ways to Be a Good Citizenhttp://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/05/01/many-ways-good-citizen/ideas/up-for-discussion/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/05/01/many-ways-good-citizen/ideas/up-for-discussion/#respond Mon, 01 May 2017 07:01:15 +0000 zocalo http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=85170 The Constitution tells us what makes a citizen of the United States, legally speaking. But over the decades, American citizenship—and the ingredients that make a good citizen in a modern Republic—has been a subject of debate. Voting and serving in the armed forces are part of the equation to be sure. But for some women, minorities, and others, who haven’t always been allowed to participate in elections or to fight, good citizenship has meant engaging in protest and agitating for the privilege of full participation in civic life. For some Americans, good citizenship lives in grand gestures like marches on Washington. For others, it’s going to work every day, paying taxes, and making life just a little bit better for the neighbor down the block, or the overworked math teacher at the local school. Flag raisers and flag burners alike can lay claim. In preparation for “Do We Still Know

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What It Means to Be American The Constitution tells us what makes a citizen of the United States, legally speaking. But over the decades, American citizenship—and the ingredients that make a good citizen in a modern Republic—has been a subject of debate. Voting and serving in the armed forces are part of the equation to be sure. But for some women, minorities, and others, who haven’t always been allowed to participate in elections or to fight, good citizenship has meant engaging in protest and agitating for the privilege of full participation in civic life. For some Americans, good citizenship lives in grand gestures like marches on Washington. For others, it’s going to work every day, paying taxes, and making life just a little bit better for the neighbor down the block, or the overworked math teacher at the local school. Flag raisers and flag burners alike can lay claim. In preparation for “Do We Still Know How to Be Good Citizens?“, a Smithsonian/Zócalo “What It Means to Be American” event, we asked eight scholars to describe times thoughout history when U.S. citizens did their part—and what that meant.

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Television and Film Have a Role to Play in Repairing a Fractured Americahttp://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/02/20/television-film-role-play-repairing-fractured-america/ideas/up-for-discussion/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2017/02/20/television-film-role-play-repairing-fractured-america/ideas/up-for-discussion/#respond Mon, 20 Feb 2017 08:01:37 +0000 zocalo http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=83627 In American memory, if not always in reality, television and film once played a unifying role. During the Great Depression, decadent Hollywood productions delivered welcome diversion. At the dawn of rock n’ roll, Elvis and The Beatles landed in living rooms across America via The Ed Sullivan Show. During the upheavals of the ‘60s and ‘70s, Walter Cronkite functioned as a reassuring and trustworthy pater familias. And in the 1980s, Michael Jackson moonwalked his way onto screens large and small, criss-crossing ethnic boundaries. But gradually, as shopping mall cineplexes targeted audiences demographically, a profusion of cable and satellite channels turned broadcasting into narrow-casting, and the cell phone morphed into an individualized video viewing platform, the pop culture landscape splintered. Today, a few industry players are working to create a new approach to entertainment, one that could bring Americans together, not just as consumers but also as citizens. In

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What It Means to Be American In American memory, if not always in reality, television and film once played a unifying role. During the Great Depression, decadent Hollywood productions delivered welcome diversion. At the dawn of rock n’ roll, Elvis and The Beatles landed in living rooms across America via The Ed Sullivan Show. During the upheavals of the ‘60s and ‘70s, Walter Cronkite functioned as a reassuring and trustworthy pater familias. And in the 1980s, Michael Jackson moonwalked his way onto screens large and small, criss-crossing ethnic boundaries. But gradually, as shopping mall cineplexes targeted audiences demographically, a profusion of cable and satellite channels turned broadcasting into narrow-casting, and the cell phone morphed into an individualized video viewing platform, the pop culture landscape splintered. Today, a few industry players are working to create a new approach to entertainment, one that could bring Americans together, not just as consumers but also as citizens. In advance of “Can Television Bring America Together?”, a Smithsonian/Zócalo “What It Means to Be American” event, we asked four writers to reflect on how television and film have united, or divided, the United States.

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Why Libraries’ Survival Mattershttp://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2016/09/29/libraries-survival-matters/ideas/up-for-discussion/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2016/09/29/libraries-survival-matters/ideas/up-for-discussion/#respond Thu, 29 Sep 2016 07:01:24 +0000 zocalo http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=79100 The internet as we know has been around for over 25 years, but we’re only beginning to grapple with how it is fundamentally changing our daily lives. More than society being “disrupted,” some cultural hallmarks—handwritten letters, record stores, newspapers—already seem to be quaint artifacts of the way we were. At first glance, libraries, too, seem destined for the dustbin of history, unable to compete with the convenience of accessing books, expertise, and media instantly on any portable smart device.

Of course, as we argue in our Inquiry, Why Libraries Will Shape the Future, the purpose of libraries and librarians—to disseminate information—is more relevant than ever in the internet age. But what of the physical spaces, which Mark Twain called “the most enduring of memorials, the trustiest monument for the preservation of an event or a name or an affection; for it, and it only, is respected by wars

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The internet as we know has been around for over 25 years, but we’re only beginning to grapple with how it is fundamentally changing our daily lives. More than society being “disrupted,” some cultural hallmarks—handwritten letters, record stores, newspapers—already seem to be quaint artifacts of the way we were. At first glance, libraries, too, seem destined for the dustbin of history, unable to compete with the convenience of accessing books, expertise, and media instantly on any portable smart device.

Of course, as we argue in our Inquiry, Why Libraries Will Shape the Future, the purpose of libraries and librarians—to disseminate information—is more relevant than ever in the internet age. But what of the physical spaces, which Mark Twain called “the most enduring of memorials, the trustiest monument for the preservation of an event or a name or an affection; for it, and it only, is respected by wars and revolutions, and survives them?” Will these institutions that once helped define communities still exist? And why should they?

In advance of “Do Libraries Have a Future?” a Zócalo Public Square event in partnership with WeHo Reads, we asked eight writers to reflect on the most memorable library they ever visited, what it meant to them, and whether it should exist in 100 years.

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Demagogues Are the Problem Children of Democracieshttp://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2016/06/20/demagogues-problem-children-democracies/ideas/up-for-discussion/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2016/06/20/demagogues-problem-children-democracies/ideas/up-for-discussion/#respond Mon, 20 Jun 2016 07:01:00 +0000 zocalo http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=74327 You wouldn’t know it by watching cable TV news, but the debate about demagogues—and their dangers—did not begin with Donald Trump.

Demagogues have been a problem for democracy for 25 centuries, at least since the populist Cleon persuaded his fellow Athenians to slaughter every man in the city of Mytilene as punishment for a failed revolt. Of that particular demagogue, Aristotle wrote: “He was the first who shouted on the public platform, who used abusive language, and who spoke with his cloak girt around him, while all the others used to speak in proper dress and manner.”

Today, as social and mass media feast on over-the-top statements, the incentives for demagoguery—and accusing others of being demagogues—are many. And with populist politicians of the left and right gaining voters’ favor around the world, very old questions about democracy are being raised again.

In advance of a Zócalo Public Square event at

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You wouldn’t know it by watching cable TV news, but the debate about demagogues—and their dangers—did not begin with Donald Trump.

Demagogues have been a problem for democracy for 25 centuries, at least since the populist Cleon persuaded his fellow Athenians to slaughter every man in the city of Mytilene as punishment for a failed revolt. Of that particular demagogue, Aristotle wrote: “He was the first who shouted on the public platform, who used abusive language, and who spoke with his cloak girt around him, while all the others used to speak in proper dress and manner.”

Today, as social and mass media feast on over-the-top statements, the incentives for demagoguery—and accusing others of being demagogues—are many. And with populist politicians of the left and right gaining voters’ favor around the world, very old questions about democracy are being raised again.

In advance of a Zócalo Public Square event at the Getty Villa, “How Does Democracy Survive Demagoguery?” we asked scholars and practitioners of democracy from Germany to Uruguay: what can democracies do to guard against demagoguery?

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What Happens When Women Run the World?http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2016/06/03/what-happens-when-women-run-the-world/ideas/up-for-discussion/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2016/06/03/what-happens-when-women-run-the-world/ideas/up-for-discussion/#respond Fri, 03 Jun 2016 07:01:31 +0000 zocalo http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=73631 What would it take to achieve gender parity? How far are we from that goal?

The pay gap, one barometer of progress, hasn’t budged in a decade, according to a new study from the American Association of University Women. For every dollar earned by a man, a woman earns 79 cents. That chasm is considerably wider for black and Latino women, and for women with children.

Women who forge ahead face other challenges. In academia, in the male-dominated STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and math, instances of sexual harassment are being documented with increasing frequency. And if women pursue projects that primarily benefit other women, the obstacles can be particularly daunting. Recent news accounts highlight these struggles, from one entrepreneur’s Silicon Valley quest to find investors for a hiring website that would make corporate America friendlier to women, to the years of frustration an engineer and her female business

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What would it take to achieve gender parity? How far are we from that goal?

The pay gap, one barometer of progress, hasn’t budged in a decade, according to a new study from the American Association of University Women. For every dollar earned by a man, a woman earns 79 cents. That chasm is considerably wider for black and Latino women, and for women with children.

Women who forge ahead face other challenges. In academia, in the male-dominated STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and math, instances of sexual harassment are being documented with increasing frequency. And if women pursue projects that primarily benefit other women, the obstacles can be particularly daunting. Recent news accounts highlight these struggles, from one entrepreneur’s Silicon Valley quest to find investors for a hiring website that would make corporate America friendlier to women, to the years of frustration an engineer and her female business partner endured while seeking funding for tampon technology that could give early warning of cancer and reproductive diseases.

Naming the problem can, in itself, mark a kind of progress: on the elite conference circuit, the ubiquity of all-male panels is being called out on social media. At this year’s World Economic Forum, more than three-quarters of the speakers and moderators were men. Despite that fact (or perhaps because of it), “women” was one of the five-day Davos gathering of global elites’ most-Tweeted topics.

One path to change is leadership—when women lead, their skills and contributions are more likely to be recognized, and they in turn are more likely to acknowledge the accomplishments of other women. In advance of an upcoming Zócalo Public Square event with Time political correspondent and New America Fellow Jay Newton-Small asking “Are Women Changing the Way Institutions Are Run?”, we posed a related question to several women leaders: What is the single biggest change we’ve seen as a result of women in leadership roles?

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Will Modern Genetics Turn Us Into Gene “Genies”?http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2016/05/24/will-modern-genetics-turn-us-into-gene-genies/ideas/up-for-discussion/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2016/05/24/will-modern-genetics-turn-us-into-gene-genies/ideas/up-for-discussion/#respond Tue, 24 May 2016 07:01:35 +0000 zocalo http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=73269 With the ubiquitous ways we apply our knowledge of genetics today—in crop seeds, medicine, space—it’s hard to believe the story of the modern gene did not emerge until the mid-1800s. The vast implications of this discovery about how living things hand down traits to offspring have spanned the range of enlightening to horrifying, from Darwin’s theory of evolution to Nazi eugenics. Technology has enabled us with relative swiftness to move beyond test tubes to actual human cells in manipulating organisms and their genetic materials. Recent discoveries such as the new CRISPR genome editing tool have made genes easier to modify than ever.

As we gain greater power over these units of heredity, we have to ask deep questions about how far we are willing to go. Earlier this month The New York Times reported that scientists are privately discussing manufacturing the entire DNA contained in human chromosomes out of chemicals.

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With the ubiquitous ways we apply our knowledge of genetics today—in crop seeds, medicine, space—it’s hard to believe the story of the modern gene did not emerge until the mid-1800s. The vast implications of this discovery about how living things hand down traits to offspring have spanned the range of enlightening to horrifying, from Darwin’s theory of evolution to Nazi eugenics. Technology has enabled us with relative swiftness to move beyond test tubes to actual human cells in manipulating organisms and their genetic materials. Recent discoveries such as the new CRISPR genome editing tool have made genes easier to modify than ever.

As we gain greater power over these units of heredity, we have to ask deep questions about how far we are willing to go. Earlier this month The New York Times reported that scientists are privately discussing manufacturing the entire DNA contained in human chromosomes out of chemicals. The activity raises the specter of being able to create a human being without parents through cloning, but according to the Times report, an organizer of the proposed project was quick to circumscribe its ambitions, saying it was aimed at creating cells, not people. Their goal, he said, was to improve scientists’ ability to synthesize DNA, techniques that could apply to animals, plants, and microbes.

With so much promise and peril in the air, how should we navigate this new scientific frontier? In advance of an upcoming Zócalo Public Square event with Pulitzer Prize-winning author and physician Siddhartha Mukherjee asking “Will genetic engineering endanger humanity?”, we posed to experts a related question: “What is the greatest possible benefit—and the biggest danger—of gene manipulation?”

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Have Emojis Replaced Emotions?http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2016/05/09/have-emojis-replaced-emotions/ideas/up-for-discussion/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2016/05/09/have-emojis-replaced-emotions/ideas/up-for-discussion/#respond Mon, 09 May 2016 07:01:47 +0000 zocalo http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=72805 What could be more human than conversation, and what better time than now to converse? The desire to connect is a powerful force, technology a mighty conduit.

Last month, when renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking joined Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, he racked up more than 2 million followers in two days. His first post, which appeared in both English and Chinese, read: “In my physical travels, I have only been able to touch the surface of your fascinating history and culture. But now I can communicate with you through social media.”

Yet, as the platforms for communication have multiplied, and with the means to connect now constantly available on our ubiquitous mobile devices, these “connections” can come with a cost: the loss of real-life human interaction. Why meet in person when you can converse on Facebook? Why answer a call when you can send a text? For every Hawking,

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What could be more human than conversation, and what better time than now to converse? The desire to connect is a powerful force, technology a mighty conduit.

Last month, when renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking joined Sina Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, he racked up more than 2 million followers in two days. His first post, which appeared in both English and Chinese, read: “In my physical travels, I have only been able to touch the surface of your fascinating history and culture. But now I can communicate with you through social media.”

Yet, as the platforms for communication have multiplied, and with the means to connect now constantly available on our ubiquitous mobile devices, these “connections” can come with a cost: the loss of real-life human interaction. Why meet in person when you can converse on Facebook? Why answer a call when you can send a text? For every Hawking, there are countless hawkers. On social media, marketers of everything from corn chips to cruises invite us to “join the conversation.” But how much actual conversation is taking place?

As a preview for Zocalo’s sixth annual book prize event, “Why We Must Relearn the Art of Conversation,” we asked communications scholars and linguists: How has the emergence of digital technology changed the way we communicate with one another? What are the advantages and disadvantages?

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Are Universities Cheating Millennials?http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2016/05/02/are-universities-cheating-millennials/ideas/up-for-discussion/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2016/05/02/are-universities-cheating-millennials/ideas/up-for-discussion/#respond Mon, 02 May 2016 07:01:04 +0000 zocalo http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=72454 It’s official: Millennials—those between 18 and 34 years old—are the largest generation in the U.S., surpassing in numbers the formerly dominant baby boomers (51 to 69 years old). Boomers’ college years meant big changes in our nation’s educational system, including the passage of the Higher Education Act of 1965. What about the millennial challenge to academia?

The educational landscape of today is rapidly evolving—millennials have an abundance of options for their degrees, including community college, online learning, and for-profit schools, as well as more traditional four-year private and public institutions. As they try to choose majors and classes, they have to navigate new branches of research and scholarship that seem to appear every year. And when it’s time to graduate, employment prospects are uncertain, often bewildering, and they are probably leaving school in the red. Most students borrow money for college, and the average total educational debt among graduates of

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It’s official: Millennials—those between 18 and 34 years old—are the largest generation in the U.S., surpassing in numbers the formerly dominant baby boomers (51 to 69 years old). Boomers’ college years meant big changes in our nation’s educational system, including the passage of the Higher Education Act of 1965. What about the millennial challenge to academia?

The educational landscape of today is rapidly evolving—millennials have an abundance of options for their degrees, including community college, online learning, and for-profit schools, as well as more traditional four-year private and public institutions. As they try to choose majors and classes, they have to navigate new branches of research and scholarship that seem to appear every year. And when it’s time to graduate, employment prospects are uncertain, often bewildering, and they are probably leaving school in the red. Most students borrow money for college, and the average total educational debt among graduates of not-for-profit, four-year colleges was over $28,000 in 2014—a crisis that current presidential campaigns have highlighted. So how should higher education change to serve the students of today? In advance of an upcoming Zócalo Public Square event with Jeffrey J. Selingo asking “Have universities failed millennials?”, we posed to a range of experts a related question: “Are universities doing all they should for millennials?”

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A Silver Tsunami Is About to Hit U.S. Health Carehttp://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2016/04/25/a-silver-tsunami-is-about-to-hit-u-s-health-care/ideas/up-for-discussion/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2016/04/25/a-silver-tsunami-is-about-to-hit-u-s-health-care/ideas/up-for-discussion/#respond Mon, 25 Apr 2016 07:01:00 +0000 zocalo http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=72245 Every day between 2010 and 2029, 10,000 Baby Boomers retire. Some say that the aging of this massive generation—which makes up slightly more than a quarter of the U.S. population—threatens to break the health care system. As more people live longer, they will seek more treatment from a system already beset by critical professional shortages. In addition, Baby Boomers face epidemics of obesity and diabetes. The trustees of Medicare estimate the program will run out of money by 2030. Is it possible to build our health care infrastructure to accommodate this wave of retirees without adding to the cost and bureaucracy of the system? And will poorer, more diverse, younger Americans be willing to support the health of an older generation that has not always been generous to them—given the uncertainty about the future of their own health care?

In advance of an April 26 Zócalo/ASU event on the future

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Every day between 2010 and 2029, 10,000 Baby Boomers retire. Some say that the aging of this massive generation—which makes up slightly more than a quarter of the U.S. population—threatens to break the health care system. As more people live longer, they will seek more treatment from a system already beset by critical professional shortages. In addition, Baby Boomers face epidemics of obesity and diabetes. The trustees of Medicare estimate the program will run out of money by 2030. Is it possible to build our health care infrastructure to accommodate this wave of retirees without adding to the cost and bureaucracy of the system? And will poorer, more diverse, younger Americans be willing to support the health of an older generation that has not always been generous to them—given the uncertainty about the future of their own health care?

In advance of an April 26 Zócalo/ASU event on the future of our health care system—”Will the Aging of America Bankrupt the Healthcare System?“—we posed that very question to people who think a lot about how the Baby Boom will impact us overall.

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What Constant Screen Time Does to Kids’ Brainshttp://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2016/04/21/what-constant-screen-time-does-to-kids-brains/ideas/up-for-discussion/ http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/2016/04/21/what-constant-screen-time-does-to-kids-brains/ideas/up-for-discussion/#respond Thu, 21 Apr 2016 07:01:30 +0000 zocalo http://www.zocalopublicsquare.org/?p=72186 An 8-year-old American child has never known a world without an iPhone. For today’s kids, smartwatches, video chats, and virtual reality aren’t harbingers of the high-tech future that adults have dreamed of for decades, but the simple accessories of an always-connected present. In kids’ eyes, the future is now. The first car they drive will probably be able to drive itself.

The glue that holds this connected world together is, of course, the internet. And while many adults came of age at a time when getting onto the internet involved sitting at a desk and suffering through a minute of ear-piercing squeaks and squeals, children now move through a society where the internet is everywhere—at home, at school, on the street, on screen after screen, day after day.

What is this perpetual exposure doing to them? How does it affect kids’ thoughts, bend their behavior, and alter their development, if

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UCLA bug square 150An 8-year-old American child has never known a world without an iPhone. For today’s kids, smartwatches, video chats, and virtual reality aren’t harbingers of the high-tech future that adults have dreamed of for decades, but the simple accessories of an always-connected present. In kids’ eyes, the future is now. The first car they drive will probably be able to drive itself.

The glue that holds this connected world together is, of course, the internet. And while many adults came of age at a time when getting onto the internet involved sitting at a desk and suffering through a minute of ear-piercing squeaks and squeals, children now move through a society where the internet is everywhere—at home, at school, on the street, on screen after screen, day after day.

What is this perpetual exposure doing to them? How does it affect kids’ thoughts, bend their behavior, and alter their development, if it does any of these things at all? In advance of an April 25 Zócalo/UCLA event on the potential pitfalls of kids’ ample time online—“Is the Internet Turning Kids Into Zombies?”—we posed the following question to four experts who think a lot about web use: What is constant internet exposure doing to kids’ brains? What are the advantages and disadvantages?

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