Political Economy Days a great success!

Palomar College celebrated its 17th Political Economy Days (PED) event this fall to packed crowds of students and faculty.  PE Days is a well-known event at Palomar, known for bringing together scholars (local and beyond our borders) to engage students in high-level discussions about a variety of topics. This semesters talks included such diverse topics as Africa, fisheries, wonder woman, mortgage lending, the great recession and BART, police interrogations, American Muslim communities, Singapore, immigration reform, Rwanda, San Diego policing and prostitution, amongst many others!

I was sadly only able to attend two presentations, but both were terrific.  The first was Brandon Whearty’s talk “How democracies die” which using humor, theoretical insights (From Foucault, Machiavelli, Weber), historical/cultural instances (The Congo, the French Revolution, the American revolution, North Korea, Greece etc.) and pop-culture references (Rocky, Brave heart, Brittney Spears, Michael Jackson,  Alanis Morrissette, The Matrix, Vanilla Ice, and more), explored the many factors that can contribute to the end of democracy.  One of the major points of his talk was that democracy, like any living entity (which lives, grows, expands etc.), isn’t just destined to exist, it can die.  Professor Whearty warned us that “Political stability is not heredity”.  He also pointed out how in democracies, political parties tend to blame one another rather than focusing their desire for change at the structure of government itself.  While the talk was depressing (in a funny kind of way) at times (and admitted so by Whearty) he challenged us at the end, to be active in our own democracies and help keep it alive through examining the mistakes of the past, and actively engaging in political reform.  A very enjoyable talk through and through!

The second presentation I was actually invited to participate in.  The presentation “There’s nothing wrong with being a feminist” was organized by Katie Townsend-Merino from our psychology department.  The presentation began with an activity which had the audience discuss what they thought feminism was and whether they identified themselves as feminists.  I was really surprised to see so many people (particularly younger folks) who indicated that they identified themselves as feminists.  Following the activity, Katie led a great discussion and highlighted some major ideas amongst the participants.  Devon Smith from sociology then took the lead and laid out a basic definition of feminism and some myths about feminism.   Following this wonderful overview, several presenters did 5-7 minute blurbs introducing the audience to several issues within feminism including feminism and pop culture (Martin Japtok), benefits of feminism & masculinity (Jack Kahn), feminism and the media (Wendy Nelson), critiques of feminism (Amber Colbert), & Intersectionality (Katie Townsend-Merino).  When asked about the event, Professor Townsend-Merino suggested, “Students were incredibly receptive to the idea that feminists want all oppressions eliminated–and one of my older make students emailed me that night noting that though he never, ever thought he was a feminist, he now knows he is, given the definitions.”  A success indeed.

As stated, I wished I could have attended more presentations, but perhaps I will be luckier next semester when round two commences.  Special thanks to Teresa Laughlin and Peter Bowman from the Economics History and Political Science department for all your hard work putting this together. And a special thanks to Sherri Titus and the Office of Student Affairs for funding and overall support!

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