Roundup of recent major conferences

Cuba conference panelists
October 7, 2012
IGS kicked off the start of the fall semester with conferences on a wide range of national and California related governmental issues. Here is a brief recap on each of the events. If you missed them, not to worry—each of the events’ individual webpages have links to webcasts.
September 13 & 14
Lead by IGS, seven campus organizations came together for a two-day conference to focus on two important historic movements playing out before us— “Arab Spring” and “Russian Winter” —in North Africa and the wider Middle East, and Russia. By taking a hard look at the ideas and practices of “democracy education,” and the context in which these changes take place in emerging and transitioning democracies conference organizers and participants hope to illuminate the challenges inherent in constructing a democracy and promote greater cross-discipline research.
September 21
As city after city in California faces bankruptcy, IGS brought a panel of experts and public officials together to analyze issues of bankruptcy, pension reform, and debt restructuring. It wasn’t all doom and gloom as the experts debated the state of our state, “Absolutely we can get out of this mess,” said Duf Sundheim, former chair of the California Republican Party. Bill Brandt, president and CEO of Development Specialist Inc. and DSI Civic, had  a more positive outlook—saying that the situation wasn’t as bad as it’s portrayal, calling general obligation bonds, “the safest bonds you can buy,” and pointing out that benefits are important for public sector employees because they trade off lower wages while working for security in retirement.
September 28
President Obama's easing of some restrictions between the United States and Cuba in early 2011 offers a slight thawing in this historically uneasy relationship. At the same time, the Cuban government has initiated a new program of modest economic reforms that have the potential to expand business and cultural exchanges between these two nations. The conference offered fresh insight and analysis into this evolving bi-national relationship and asked what might these developments mean for California and the U.S.?
October 1
From the days of MySpace, to the YouTube revolution and Twitter sphere of today, social media has changed not only the way we communicate with our friends, but also the landscape of American politics. Candidates are using more sophisticated social media strategies to reach out to an incredibly diverse electorate and voters are communicating more actively among themselves. Our panel of experts, debated whether more information—and a Twitter-speed news cycle—contributes to more considered opinions, or simply more noise?