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Fall 2020 Series

The Swarthmore Discussion Group will hold its Fall Series 2020 remotely, due to the pandemic. The series will consist of four monthly presentations in September, October, November, and December.  SDG will use Zoom for these presentations. For more information on Swarthmore College's course of action with COVID-19, please click here

Sept. 16 "MyBarackObama: How Social Media Ate Our Elections and What We Can Do About It"

Claire Bond Potter, author and professor of history, New School for Social Research

Social media created a new campaign style – modern, useful, and interested in you – that lifted Barack Obama to the presidency in 2008, but at what cost? Digital alternative media created a historic victory but also produced the hyperpartisan environment we grapple with today. Potter is a political historian and the author of Political Junkies: From Talk Radio to Twitter, How Alternative Media Hooked Us On Politics and Broke Our Democracy. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Politico, and The Guardian.

Oct. 7 "The State of the LGBTQ Movement"

Rea Carey, executive director, National LGBTQ Task Force

Fifty years after the Stonewall riots, where is the LGBTQ movement headed? Through HIV/AIDS, anti-violence work, securing some nondiscrimination protections, and winning marriage rights, the LGBTQ movement has been resilient, adaptive, and creative. Now is the time to think expansively about a movement grounded in racial, economic, gender, and social justice — one that allows each person to be “all of me, all the time.” Carey has spent three decades in leadership roles in the LGBTQ movement, and serves on the boards of the Freeman Foundation and the Flamboyan Foundation.

Nov. 11 "The 2020 Elections: What Happened? What’s Next?"

Jason Zengerle ’96, writer at large, The New York Times Magazine

Zengerle will explore the recently completed political campaigns, discussing the key issues, players, and moments that contributed to the results. He will assess what those results mean going forward — for the next year, the next election, and beyond.

Dec. 9 "Spit Spreads Death: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918–19 in Philadelphia"

Robert Hicks, senior consulting scholar, College of Physicians of Philadelphia

What happens when disease strikes a city of 2 million people, sickening half a million and killing more than 12,000 in just six weeks and thousands more over several months? Taken from a public health campaign in 1918, “Spit Spreads Death” warns against the transmission of the virus that killed more people globally than both the First and Second World Wars combined. Hicks discusses the pandemic as a social catastrophe and considers its memorialization today. Have lessons from the 1918 flu been applied to today’s pandemic? Hicks is William Maul Measey Chair for the History of Medicine at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia and former director of the Mütter Museum.