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Conference Will Take Long View on Political Campaigns


By Rosanne Pellegrini | Chronicle Staff

Published: Oct. 18, 2012

A conference taking place at Boston College tomorrow and Saturday will demonstrate the role of serious, scholarly work in illuminating issues of public interest even during the most heated of political campaigns, according to organizers.

“The 2012 Election in Comparative and Historical Perspective,” sponsored by the History Department, Carroll School of Management and the Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy, will bring together scholars from a range of fields, including a number of Boston College faculty members. Participants will discuss the current state of politics in the United States, both in the context of this year’s elections and beyond.  

“Historical and comparative perspectives are essential to approach a political reality whose urgency is both irresistible and potentially distorting,” said Clough Center Director and Associate Professor of Law Vlad Perju, who will lead the event with opening remarks. “They make it possible to talk about politics without the empty stereotypes of the all-too-prevalent and mindless spin room mentality.”

Keynote addresses will be given by Yale Law School Professor Heather Gerken, who will speak on “Campaign Finance and Shadow Parties: The Future of American Politics,” and Princeton University Professor of American History Sean Wilentz, who will present “Still the ‘Age of Reagan’?”

The sessions will be moderated by BC faculty: Associate Professor of History Mark Gelfand (“The Republican Challenge”); Associate Professor of History Martin Summers (“The Evolving Process: Money, Media, and the Right to Vote”); Professor of History Lynn Johnson (“The Democrats and the Problems of Incumbency”); Professor of History Patrick Maney (“The Influence of Social Issues: Religion, Race and Other Divides”); Professor of Economics Susanto Basu (“Consequences: Economy, Society, Foreign Policy”), and Political Science Assistant Professor David Hopkins (“The US in the World: Comparisons, Contrasts, Models”).

Other BC faculty participants include Professor of History Heather Richardson, Moakley Professor of Political Science Kay Schlozman, Professor of History James O’Toole, Law School Dean Vincent Rougeau, Associate Professor of History Seth Jacobs and Professor of History James Cronin. Perju and Professor of History Kevin Kenny will introduce the keynote speakers.

Among other institutions, faculty from the University of Montreal, Colby College, Harvard, Duke and Boston universities will participate, in addition to Ruy Teixeira of the Center for American Progress, The American Prospect co-founder and co-editor Robert Kuttner, and others.

Information about the conference, which takes place in the Fulton Hall Honors Library, is available at (registration was completed Oct. 15).