Listen: Political Scientist Ben Berger Discusses
National Politics, Named Periclean Faculty Leader
by Alisa Giardinelli
Disproving the idea of slow news days in the summer, last week's political news included an Arizona court putting the state's immigration law on hold, a senator who says he may try to repeal the amendment which grants birthright citizenship, and President Obama's struggles with popularity and his appareance on The View. Associate Professor of Political Science Ben Berger recently discussed these and other issues in on WHYY's Radio Times.
"People need to get realistic about how politics are played in this country and the different factions that are out there," he says regarding those who are disappointed that Obama hasn't achieved more in his first term. "Anybody who thought he'd be able to do a public [health care] option right away was imagining things."
That said, he adds that "Americans have a deep-rooted aversion to being played for a sucker. It doesn't mean they're always right that they are being played, but if they think it's happening they will mobilize, and that's been happening in some of the opposition to big government."
Listen to the entire discussion:
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Last spring, Berger, an expert in modern political theory, represented Swarthmore in the first cohort of the Periclean Faculty Leadership Program, a signature program of Project Pericles designed to champion civic engagement in the classroom, on campus, and in the community. Berger's tenure as a Periclean Leader extends to the end of 2011.
"I plan to carry on the work that many of us here do already - promoting community engagement and social responsibility - but with the added bonus of the Periclean network," he says. "This fall, I will adapt and update my Democratic Theory and Practice course, which combines traditional scholarship and community engagement, to give students a more meaningful understanding of democracy's goals and challenges. My students and I will work with some new community partners in Chester and Swarthmore, including the Chester Youth Courts [pdf]. I'm also putting together a community-wide conference to discuss Delaware County's history and politics. It's very exciting."