EI undergraduate fellows bring experts to campus for fall lecture series

As part of their fall programming, the 2012 Eisenhower Institute (EI) undergraduate fellows have worked together to organize panels on a range of topics, each relating to some aspect of the 2012 presidential election. For each topic, two undergraduate fellows invited a guest speaker to campus and organized a corresponding lunchtime faculty presentation. Now that Election Day has passed and the heat of the campaign season has died down, EI undergraduate fellows reflect on the topics each lecture addressed.

For the first guest lecture of the semester, Katelyn Stauffer ‘13 and Alexandra Papada ’13 invited Anne Kornblut (pictured above) of the Washington Post for a discussion on the role of the female vote in the presidential election. Kornblut’s Sept. 20 lecture emphasized the importance of gaining the women’s vote in past elections and sought to assess how Obama and Romney would gain women’s votes in the 2012 election.

Undergraduate fellows Nick Jesteadt ’13 and Brencis Navia ’13 chose to address the topic of the economic influence on the presidential election. A discussion on Sept. 25 with professors Charles Weise and Rimvydas Baltaduonis, both of the Economics Department, preceded a Sept. 27 lecture given by David Lynch of Bloomberg News.

Lynch“Mr. Lynch displayed the knowledge that Nick and I were looking for in our search for our expert panel,” Navia said. “He brought a lot of experience that helped to shed light on a topic that many found interesting yet tough to follow.”

In his lecture, Lynch (pictured left, with Navia and Jesteadt) discussed the effect of the economy on campaigning and electoral outcomes in past presidential elections and made projections based on these insights for the 2012 election. The discussion explored economic factors that influence voters, including unemployment, GDP growth, and inflation.

Navia and Jesteadt, who have both explored their interests in economics during their time at Gettysburg College, chose to focus on the economy because they knew it would be one of the biggest topics in the 2012 presidential election.

“I saw this as an opportunity to understand how the macro-level economy works and what effects each policy proposal could have on the national economy,” Navia said.

In early October, fellows David Wemer ’14 and Rose Kane ’13 organized a faculty presentation and guest lecture on the role of religion in the 2012 presidential election. Panelists at an Oct. 2 lunchtime discussion were Professor of Religious Studies Jacqueline Robinson and Reverend Joseph Donella. David Masci (pictured below, with undergraduate fellows and Professor Shirley Anne Warshaw), a senior researcher at the PEW Forum on Religion & Public Life, came to campus on Oct. 4 to deliver a lecture, “So Help You, God.”

“In several of my classes here and for my research abroad I have relied on data from the PEW Forum for Religion and Public Life,” Kane said. “When we were asked to bring an expert to campus focusing on religion and the 2012 election, I immediately thought to look to PEW. After doing a bit of research, I found that Mr. Masci specialized in the study of ‘culture war’ questions that pertained heavily to the influences of religion on making electoral decisions.”

Masci's talk addressed the relationship between religion and science in several wedge issues, including gay marriage, abortion, evolution in the classroom, assisted suicide, public religious displays, and stem cell research.


The final presentation organized by the EI undergraduate fellows explored the role of campaigns and media in the 2012 presidential election. Anthony Palmer ’13 and Colin Gorman ’13 invited John Baer of the Philadelphia Daily News to participate on a panel with Political Science Professor Bruce Larson and Interdisciplinary Studies Professor Joel Berg on Oct. 16. The panel discussed the impact of an evolving media landscape on political campaigns and governance, with a focus on how the 24-hour news cycle has changed the campaign cycle in American politics.

“Our interest in this topic began when Colin and I spent the fall semester of our junior year studying at American University's Washington Semester Program. We were lucky to be in D.C. when the presidential campaign was first getting under way,” said Palmer, who also spent the semester interning on NBC’s The Chris Matthews Show.

“The news cycle is only getting faster. We are bombarded with a surplus of information every day. I wanted to approach our panel with the goal of exploring what these radical changes in the way we communicate and receive information mean for the future of American politics,” Palmer said.

He and Gorman planned to welcome Richard Benedetto, former USA Today White House Correspondent, for an Oct. 30 lecture, but Hurricane Sandy prevented his travel. The lecture will be rescheduled for the spring semester.

The Eisenhower Institute at Gettysburg College is a distinguished center for leadership and public policy based in Washington, D.C. and Gettysburg, honoring the legacy of Dwight D. Eisenhower. The Institute is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that develops and sponsors civic discourse on significant issues of domestic and international public policy.

Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Article by: Liz Williams '13, communications & marketing intern

Posted: Mon, 26 Nov 2012

Next on your reading list

Cultivating a first-class faculty: Prof. Allen Guelzo receives prestigious award

Everything you need to know for Commencement 2018

Admissions building dedication celebrates legacy of parents

Share this story: