The La Follette School will host its third-ever La Follette Forum at the Monona Terrace on Wednesday, April 4.
The Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs is the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s graduate public policy school. Chaired by Public Affairs and Political Science Professor Mark Copelovitch, the forum brings together leading experts to discuss issues confronting the United States.
“La Follette puts on an annual policy forum every year, which is part of our mission and the La Follette school’s outreach,” Copelovitch told 1050 Bascom. “This is the Wisconsin Idea… taking our research and teaching expertise and engaging with public policy issues and talking to the broader public.”
The forum will include 90-minute sessions on three topics: prosperity, power and democracy. Presenters and Wisconsin-based panelists will lead discussions and answer audience questions, covering issues such as the rise of China, authoritarianism and the ever-changing U.S. economy.
Speakers from the worlds of academia, business and public policy won’t be the only ones featured at the forum. Journalists Jamelle Bouie of The New York Times and Catherine Rampell of The Washington Post will each headline a session over the course of the day.
Rampell, who is also the La Follette School's spring journalist in residence, covers economics, public policy, immigration and politics as an opinion columnist. She sees her role at the forum as an intermediary one, making complex issues clear for attendees as she does for readers.
“I am not an economist… I'm an economics journalist,” Rampell said. “I don't have the same training as an academic, and I come at these issues from a different angle. I think the value I can add is (that I) talk about both the actual economic trends and how they affect real people and hopefully make it a little bit less abstract.”
Rampell added that experts may not be equipped to discuss their fields of study and work in plain language, making her and Bouie’s roles as presenters that much more important.
“I'm lucky in that I get paid to learn about these things and then figure out how to do some sort of translation work for the general public,” she said. “Frankly, if academics were better at communicating, I would be out of the job!”
The La Follette Forum is free and open to the public. The event will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center. It will also be livestreamed, and attendees can register for the event here.
Addison Lathers is the Editor in Chief of The Daily Cardinal. She has covered city and campus news and held two editor positions. Follow her on Twitter at @addisonlathers.