Professor and Political Scientist
Francis Moore Lappe
Author and Researcher
K. Sabeel Rahman
Professor & President of Demos
Professor and Historian
Environmentalist, Author & Journalist
President, Arizona State University
Attorney & Former Governor of Colorado
Vice President & Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center
Professor and Historian
Professor of Law, University of Indiana
David Orr, Environmentalist, Author, and Founder of State of American Democracy
Many have noted the Covid-19 pandemic is a kind of dress rehearsal for the both more significant and more distant challenge for democracy of global climate change. But democracy itself is threatened by a federal executive with little regard for constitutional principles, traditions, or norms. This episode examines what this moment has revealed about the republic’s capacity to respond to the threat of climate change.
“Democracy and inequality are are kind of like oil and vinegar … you might be able to get a dressing out of them if you whisk long enough, but usually, inequality is destabilizing to democracies.”
– Jacob Hacker
Jacob Hacker, Professor and Political Scientist
Jacob S. Hacker is Stanley Resor Professor of Political Science and Director of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies at Yale University. A regular media commentator and policy adviser, he is the author or co-author of five books, numerous journal articles, and a wide range of popular writings on American politics and public policy. His most recent book, written with Paul Pierson, is American Amnesia: How the War on Government Led Us to Forget What Made America Prosper—a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice and a best business book of 2016 according to the management magazine Strategy+Business. Previously, the two wrote the New York Times bestseller Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class. Professor Hacker is known for his research and writings regarding health policy, especially his development of the so-called public option. He is also a member of the OECD’s High-Level Expert Group on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress. He was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Francis Moore Lappe, Author and Researcher
Frances Moore Lappé is the author or co-author of 19 books about world hunger, living democracy, and the environment, beginning with the three-million copy Diet for a Small Planet in 1971. In Fall 2017, she coauthored Daring Democracy: Igniting Power, Meaning, and Connection for the America We Want with Adam Eichen. Frances was interviewed by The New York Times Magazine in an article titled, “Frances Moore Lappé changed how we eat. She wants to do the same for our democracy.”
Other recent works include World Hunger: 10 Myths and EcoMind. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., describes Diet for a Small Planet as “one of the most influential political tracts of the times.” In 2008, it was selected as one of 75 Books by Women Whose Words Have Changed the World, by members of the Women’s National Book Association. Frances was also named by Gourmet Magazine as one of 25 people (including Thomas Jefferson, Upton Sinclair, and Julia Child) whose work has changed the way America eats. Her books have been translated into 15 languages and are used widely in university courses.
Frances makes frequent media appearances. Most notably she has been featured on the Today Show, Hardball with Chris Matthews, Fox News’ Fox & Friends, WSJ.com, The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s ‘The National’, Frost Over the World, NPR, and the BBC, among other news outlets. Frances appears frequently as a public speaker and is a contributor to Medium and Common Dreams. She is also a contributing editor at Yes! Magazine and Solutions Journal. Articles featuring or written by Frances have also appeared in The New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine, Harper’s, The Los Angeles Times, The Nation, People, Huffington Post, BillMoyers.com, and more.
In 2011, EcoMind: Changing the Way We Think, to Create the World We Want won a silver award from the Independent Publishers Association. In 2008, Getting a Grip along with Diet for a Small Planet were designated as “must reads” for the next U.S. president (by Barbara Kingsolver and Michael Pollan, respectively) in The New York Times Sunday Review of Books. In 2007, Getting a Grip was a San Francisco Chronicle Best Seller and received the Nautilus Gold/ “Best in Small Press” award. Other recent books include Hope’s Edge (written with Anna Lappé), and Democracy’s Edge, and You Have the Power: Choosing Courage in a Culture of Fear.
In 1987 Frances received the Right Livelihood Award (considered an “Alternative Nobel”) “for revealing the political and economic causes of world hunger and how citizens can help to remedy them.” Frances is also the recipient of 19 honorary doctorates from distinguished institutions, including The University of Michigan. In 1985, she was a visiting scholar at the Institute for the Study of Social Change, University of California, Berkeley and from 2000 to 2001, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2008 she received the James Beard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year Award for her lifelong impact on the way people all over the world think about food, nutrition, and agriculture.
Other notable awards include the International Studies Association’s 2009 Outstanding Public Scholar Award, and in 2011, the Nonino Prize in Italy for her life’s work. In 2007 Frances became a founding member of the World Future Council, based in Hamburg, Germany. Frances also serves on the National Advisory Board of the Union of Concerned Scientists, on the International Board of Advisors of Grassroots International and on the Value [the] Meal Advisory Board of Corporate Accountability International. She is also a member of the Sisters on the Planet network, part of Oxfam America.
Frances is the cofounder of three organizations, including Oakland based think tank Food First, and more recently, the Small Planet Institute, which she leads with her daughter, Anna Lappé. Frances and her daughter have also cofounded the Small Planet Fund, which channels resources to democratic social movements worldwide.
K. Sabeel Rahman, Professor & President of Demos
K. Sabeel Rahman is an Associate Professor of Law at Brooklyn Law School and President of Demos. He previously has been a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School (2017), and a Fellow at New America.
Rahman’s research focuses on the themes of democracy, economic inequality, exclusion, and power. His first book, Democracy Against Domination (Oxford University Press, 2017) examines how democratic ideals fueled reform movements in the Progressive Era, and what their implications might be in today’s post-financial crisis debates about economic inequality. His second book, Civic Power (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming, with Hollie Russon Gilman) explores new approaches to organizing, power, and institutional reform in the face of the current crisis of American democracy. His next research project focuses on the problems of structural inequality and exclusion, private power, and inequality, exploring historical, social movement, and public policy approaches to tackling these issues. In addition to his academic writings in law, political theory, and political science, he has written for a variety of venues including The Atlantic, The New Republic, Boston Review, Dissent, The Nation, and others.
Rahman has worked extensively with policymakers, funders, and advocacy groups in developing strategies and novel approaches to questions of democracy and economic inequality. In 2014-15 he served as a Special Advisor on strategies for inclusive economic development in New York City, and from 2015-16 as a Public Member of the New York City Rent Guidelines Board. From 2013-2016, Rahman was the Design Director for the Gettysburg Project, an interdisciplinary initiative working with organizers, academics, and funders to develop new strategies for civic engagement and building civic capacity. In addition, Rahman is on the Board of The New Press, a non-profit publisher focusing on publishing books in the public interest, and United to Protect Democracy, a legal advocacy group battling current threats to American democratic institutions.
Rahman earned his AB at Harvard College summa cum laude in Social Studies and returned to Harvard for his JD at Harvard Law School and his PhD in the Harvard Government Department. He also has degrees in Economics and Sociolegal Studies from Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.
Jeremi Suri, Professor and Historian
Jeremi Suri holds the Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin. He is a professor in the university’s Department of History and the LBJ School of Public Affairs. Dr. Suri is the author and editor of nine books on contemporary politics and foreign policy, most recently The Impossible Presidency: The Rise and Fall of America’s Highest Office. His other books include Henry Kissinger and the American Century, Liberty’s Surest Guardian: American Nation-Building from the Founders to Obama and Foreign Policy Breakthroughs: Cases in Successful Diplomacy (with Robert Hutchings).
Dr. Suri writes for major newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New York Daily News, The Dallas Morning News, The Houston Chronicle, The Boston Globe, Foreign Affairs, Fortune, The American Prospect, and Wired—as well as for various online sites and blogs. He is a popular public lecturer, and appears frequently on radio and television.
Dr. Suri teaches courses on strategy and decision-making, leadership, globalization, international relations and modern history. He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses, and he teaches and serves as academic director for the Executive Master in Public Leadership program (EMPL) at the LBJ School. His research and teaching have received numerous prizes. In 2007 Smithsonian magazine named him one of America’s “Top Young Innovators” in the arts and sciences.
Bill McKibben, Environmentalist, Author & Journalist
Bill McKibben is an author and environmentalist who in 2014 was awarded the Right Livelihood Prize, sometimes called the ‘alternative Nobel.’ His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change, and has appeared in 24 languages; he’s gone on to write a dozen more books. He is a founder of 350.org, the first planet-wide, grassroots climate change movement, which has organized twenty thousand rallies around the world in every country save North Korea, spearheaded the resistance to the Keystone Pipeline, and launched the fast-growing fossil fuel divestment movement.
The Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College and a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he was the 2013 winner of the Gandhi Prize and the Thomas Merton Prize, and holds honorary degrees from 18 colleges and universities. Foreign Policy named him to their inaugural list of the world’s 100 most important global thinkers, and the Boston Globe said he was “probably America’s most important environmentalist.”
A former staff writer for the New Yorker, he writes frequently for a wide variety of publications around the world, including the New York Review of Books, National Geographic, and Rolling Stone. He lives in the mountains above Lake Champlain with his wife, the writer Sue Halpern, where he spends as much time as possible outdoors . In 2014, biologists honored him by naming a new species of woodland gnat— Megophthalmidia mckibbeni–in his honor.
Michael Crow, President, Arizona State University
Dr. Michael M. Crow is an educator, knowledge enterprise architect, science and technology policy scholar and higher education leader. He became the sixteenth president of Arizona State University in July 2002 and has spearheaded ASU’s rapid and groundbreaking transformative evolution into one of the world’s best public metropolitan research universities. As a model “New American University,” ASU simultaneously demonstrates comprehensive excellence, inclusivity representative of the ethnic and socioeconomic diversity of the United States, and consequential societal impact.
Lauded as the ”#1 most innovative” school in the nation by U.S. News & World Report (2016-2020), ASU is a student-centric, technology-enabled university focused on complex global challenges related to sustainability, economic competitiveness, social embeddedness, entrepreneurship and global engagement. Under Dr, Crow’s leadership, ASU has established twenty-five new transdisciplinary schools, including the School of Earth and Space Exploration, the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, and launched trailblazing multidisciplinary initiatives including the Biodesign Institute, the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, and important initiatives in the humanities and social sciences.
Bill Ritter, Attorney & Former Governor of Colorado
Governor Bill Ritter was elected Colorado’s 41st governor in 2006 and was the District Attorney of Denver from 1993-2005. During his four-year term as Governor, Ritter established Colorado as a national and international leader in clean energy by building a New Energy Economy. After leaving the Governor’s Office, Ritter founded the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University, which works with state and federal policy makers to create clean energy policy throughout the country. Governor Ritter has authored a book that was published in 2016 entitled, Powering Forward – What Everyone Should Know About America’s Energy Revolution.
Gov. Ritter is the chair of the Board of Directors of the Energy Foundation and serves on the Regis University Board of Trustees. Gov. Ritter is a member of Blackhorn Venture Capital and serves as an advisor to Green Alpha and Millennium Bridge, among others. Ritter earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Colorado State University (1978) and his law degree from the University of Colorado (1981). With his wife Jeannie, he operated a food distribution and nutrition center in Zambia. He then served as Denver’s district attorney from 1993 to January 2005.
Peter Wehner, Vice President & Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center
Peter Wehner is Vice President and Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He is a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times and a contributing editor for The Atlantic magazine. Mr. Wehner has written for numerous other publications—including Time magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Financial Times, The Weekly Standard, National Review, Commentary, National Affairs, and Christianity Today—and has appeared frequently as a commentator on MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, CBS, PBS, and C-SPAN television. He was also the Pamela and Jack Egan Visiting Professor at the Sanford School of Public Policy and the School of Arts and Sciences at Duke University in 2019–2020.
Mr. Wehner served in the Reagan and George H.W. Bush Administrations prior to becoming deputy director of speechwriting for President George W. Bush. In 2002, he was asked to head the Office of Strategic Initiatives, where he generated policy ideas, reached out to public intellectuals, published op-eds and essays, and provided counsel on a range of domestic and international issues. He has also served as an adviser to several presidential campaigns.
Mr. Wehner’s book The Death of Politics: How to Heal Our Frayed Republic After Trump (HarperCollins) was published in June 2019. He is also author of City of Man: Religion and Politics in a New Era (co-authored with Michael J. Gerson), Wealth and Justice: The Morality of Democratic Capitalism (co-authored with Arthur C. Brooks), and co-editor of books on foreign policy (The Latin American Policies of U.S. Allies) and national security (Promise or Peril: The Strategic Defense Initiative).
Timothy Snyder, Professor and Historian
Timothy Snyder is the Richard C. Levin Professor of History at Yale University and a permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna. He speaks five and reads ten European languages. His chief books are Nationalism, Marxism, and Modern Central Europe: A Biography of Kazimierz Kelles-Krauz (1998); The Reconstruction of Nations: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, 1569-1999 (2003); Sketches from a Secret War: A Polish Artist’s Mission to Liberate Soviet Ukraine (2005); The Red Prince: The Secret Lives of a Habsburg Archduke(2008); Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin (2010), Thinking the Twentieth Century (with Tony Judt, 2012); Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning (2015); On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century (2017); and The Road to Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America (2018). Snyder is co-editor of The Wall Around the West: State Borders and Immigration Controls in Europe and North America (2001); Stalin and Europe: Terror, War, Domination (2013); and The Balkans as Europe (2018). His essays are collected in Ukrainian History, Russian Politics, European Futures (2014), and The Politics of Life and Death (2015). Snyder’s work has appeared in forty languages and has received about as many prizes. He has received state orders from Estonia, Lithuania, and Poland. He was a Marshall Scholar at Oxford, where he earned his D.Phil., and has received the Carnegie and Guggenheim fellowships. Among other distinctions are the Emerson Prize in the Humanities, the Literature Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Foundation for Polish Science prize in the social sciences, the Leipzig Award for European Understanding, the Dutch Auschwitz Committee award, and the Hannah Arendt Prize in Political Thought. He has appeared in media around the world, including major films. His words has been quoted in political demonstrations in several countries. He is writing a book about freedom.
Dawn Johnsen, Professor of Law, University of Indiana
Dawn Johnsen is the Walter W. Foskett Professor of Constitutional law, who is currently on the faculty at Maurer School of Law at Indiana University in Bloomington, IndianaProfessor Johnsen joined the faculty in 1998, following a distinguished career in Washington, DC. She served in the U.S. Department of Justice under President Bill Clinton (1993-1998), including as the acting assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel (1997-1998), which provides legal advice to the attorney general, the president, and the general counsels of the various executive branch agencies. She served on the transition teams for both President Clinton and President Barack Obama. President Obama nominated her to return to head the Office of Legal Counsel as assistant attorney general but the US Senate failed to act on the nomination from 2009-2010. From 1988-1993, she was the legal director of the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (now NARAL Pro-Choice America), and prior to that as staff counsel fellow at the American Civil Liberties Union Reproductive Freedom Project. She clerked for Judge Richard D. Cudahy of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
Johnsen serves as director and secretary of the board of directors of the Guttmacher Institute, a leading sexual and reproductive health research and policy organization. She also serves on the academic advisory board of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy. Her research interests include issues of separation of powers (especially presidential power) and civil liberties (especially reproductive rights). She teaches Constitutional Law, the First Amendment, and Seminars in the Separation of Powers and Sexuality, Reproduction and the Constitution.
David Orr, Environmentalist, Author, and Founder of State of American Democracy
David W. Orr is Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics Emeritus and senior advisor to the president of Oberlin College. He is a founding editor of the journal Solutions, and founder of the Oberlin Project, a collaborative effort of the city of Oberlin, Oberlin College, and private and institutional partners to improve the resilience, prosperity, and sustainability of Oberlin. Orr is the author of eight books, including Dangerous Years: Climate Change, the Long Emergency, and the Way Forward (Yale, 2016) and Down to the Wire: Confronting Climate Collapse (Oxford, 2009) and coeditor of three others. He has authored over 200 articles, reviews, book chapters, and professional publications.
In the past 25 years, he has served as a board member or advisor to eight foundations and on the boards of many organizations, including the Rocky Mountain Institute and the Aldo Leopold Foundation. Currently he is a trustee of the Alliance for Sustainable Colorado and the Children and Nature Network. He has been awarded eight honorary degrees and a dozen other awards including a Lyndhurst Prize, a National Achievement Award from the National Wildlife Federation, and a Visionary Leadership Award from Second Nature. Orr is a frequent lecturer at colleges and universities throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. While at Oberlin, he spearheaded the effort to design, fund, and build the Adam Joseph Lewis Center, which was named by an AIA panel in 2010 as “the most important green building of the past 30 years,” and as “one of 30 milestone buildings of the twentieth century” by the U.S. Department of Energy and was instrumental in funding the Peter B. Lewis Gateway Center.