NCA Inside & Out

Citizenship Event at Busboys and Poets

NCA Public Program Asks, What Does it Mean to Be a Citizen in Contemporary America?

May 25, 2016

On March 22, 2016, NCA held a public program titled “What Does it Mean to Be a Citizen in Contemporary America?” Held at Busboys & Poets in Washington, DC—an establishment known for its community outreach and engagement— the panel discussion attracted a diverse crowd of local residents.

The panel was moderated by NCA Director of Academic and Professional Affairs Trevor Parry-Giles. Panelists included Elisabeth Anker, Associate Professor of American Studies at The George Washington University; Robert Asen, Professor of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin; Elizabeth Markovits, Associate Professor of Politics at Mount Holyoke College; and Eric King Watts, Associate Professor of Communication Studies at the University of North Carolina.

The conversation occurred in the context of President Barack Obama’s 2016 State of the Union address, in which the President invited Americans to consider several questions about our collective future as a nation. One of those questions was “How can we make our politics reflect what’s best in us, and not what’s worst?” How can Americans repair “the basic bonds of trust” so necessary for a thriving, healthy, productive democracy, President Obama asked. The panel participants, who have thought long and hard about the meaning and power of American citizenship, brought their unique perspectives to the discussion about the discourses that construct and manifest citizenship in this polarized time.