The Pulse

The month ahead in Higher Ed

By: - March 6, 2023 6:00 am

Mark your calendars for these higher education related meetings, listening sessions and events over the next month:

Wednesday, March 8

“The Politics of the Marvel Cinematic Universe” – a panel discussion promoting the new book in which more than 25 scholars examine the way the phenomenally successful Marvel superhero films go beyond mere thrills, delivering messages about government, public policy and society.

The discussion will include Lilly Goren, book co-editor and professor at Carroll University; Nick Carnes, book co-editor and professor at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy; Eric Degeans, NPR TV critic and professor at Duke’s DeWitt Wallace Center and Tom DeFalco, writer and former editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics.

The event kicks off at  5 p.m. in the Holsti-Anderson Room (Room 153) at Rubenstein Library, on Duke’s West Campus at 411 Chapel Hill Drive in Durham. Parking is available at the Bryan Center garage on Science Drive.

Monday March 13

Listening session with The Governor’s Commission on the Governance of Public Universities in North Carolina Charlotte Area Chamber of Commerce, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Gov. Cooper created the commission through an executive order in November, citing a series of scandals involving the UNC System and its constituent universities. The commission is co-chaired by former UNC System Presidents Tom Ross and Margaret Spellings, a Democrat and Republican respectively.

Its mission is to “assess the current appointment system of public university governance in the University of North Carolina System and make recommendations to the Governor on how it can be reformed and strengthened.”

Neither the governor nor the commission has the power to change the ways in which the UNC System is governed or how members of its board of governors or trustees at individual UNC System campuses are appointed. They can and are expected to submit suggestions for changes to the North Carolina General Assembly, whose Republican majority now tightly controls that process.

N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) dismissed the commission and its work almost immediately after it was announced, issuing a statement saying the legislature has no interest in making changes to the UNC System “regardless of whatever report this politically motivated commission produces.”

Policy Watch covered the last two listening sessions, in Wilmington late last month and in Asheville last week.

Monday, March 20

Listening session with The Governor’s Commission on the Governance of Public Universities in North Carolina — Pitt Community College, Greenville 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Wednesday, March 22

The UNC-Chapel Hill Program for Public Discourse will hold a panel discussion on Faith and Abortion as part of its Abbey Speaker Series.

The discussion comes as the Republican majority in the North Carolina General Assembly pursues new restrictions on abortion, part of a wave of such legislation following the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Last month a Meredith College poll found more than half of respondents wanted to keep the state’s current law allowing for abortion access up to 20 weeks or to expand the period in which women can access abortion. Over a third wanted to restrict access to abortion further or ban access entirely. About 31 percent said they would like to keep the law as it is.

That division is deeply partisan, the polling found – three quarters of Democrats polled wanted to keep the current law or expand access while nearly 60 percent of Republicans wanted further restrictions or an outright ban. Among unaffiliated voters, nearly 60 percent said they would prefer keeping the 20 week ban or expanding access.

From left to right: Professor Mara Buchbinder, Leah Libresco Sargeant, Maharat Ruth Friedman, Lauren W. Reliford.

The March 22 UNC-Chapel Hill panel discussion will be moderated by Mara Buchbinder, a professor and vice chair of the department of social medicine at the UNC School of Medicine. Panelists include Maharat Ruth Friedman, clergy at Ohev Sholom – the National Synagogue in Washington DC; Lauren W. Reliford, a social worker and Political Director for Christian organization Sojourners and Leah Libresco Sargeant, writer and author of the book Arriving at Amen, which examined her conversion from atheism to Catholicism.

The event begins at 5:30 p.m. FedEx Global Education Center, Nelson Mandela Auditorium and will also be streamed online. Registration here.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Joe Killian
Joe Killian

Investigative Reporter Joe Killian's work examines government, politics and policy, with a special emphasis on higher education, LGBTQ issues and extremism.