Well, good morning, friends in civics. It has been awhile, and we have some post backlog built up. I apologize for the delay in posting, but I have been on the road a great deal the past few weeks, including on civics item review (which will be a post of its own this week). Prior to heading on the road, I had the great pleasure to take part in the Lou Frey Institute‘s Fall 2015 Symposium. The symposiums, one of the most important legacies of retired Congressman Lou Frey, Jr and a significant project of the Institute, are open to the public and every year we invite hundreds of high school students, and their teachers, to join us for a look at important issues in civic life. This year’s symposium, ‘The 2016 Road to the White House’, featured a set of panel discussions relating to political advertising and voter manipulation, issues facing the Democratic and Republican parties in the 2016 election, and why every citizen should be engaged in civic work and action. We also had a fantastic keynote from the renowned scholar, Dr. James Thurber. This time around, the symposium featured a great deal of interaction with students, with the second and third panels almost entirely driven by audience questions. Take a look at the agenda below! (click on the agenda to enlarge)

sympoIf you were unable to attend the symposium, never fear. You can view the keynote and each session here, or simply view them below.

Dr. James Thurber, Distinguished Professor of Government, and Founder and Director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, American University discusses politics, process, and polarization in American elections.

Dr. Jim Kitchens, head of The Kitchens Group and an attitude and mass persuasion specialist.
John Dowless, President and Founder, Millennium Consulting
Dick Batchelor, Moderator, Dick Batchelor Management Group
Using actual examples from both winning and losing bellwether presidential campaigns, this panel discusses how candidates use televised campaign advertisements in an effort to persuade voters, manipulate opinion, and shape the attitude of the electorate over both the short and long term.

Brian Barrett, Florida State Director, Republican National Committe
Brian Kirchberg, former state house campaign manager and field operative
Ryan Houck, Communications Strategist and Media Consultant, Consensus Communications
This interactive panel, almost entirely driven by student questions, gives participants the opportunity to talk with experienced political operatives about issues within the 2016 presidential election as well as how the parties approach areas of policy and politics.

Dr. Stephen S. Masyada, Director, Florida Joint Center for Citizenship
Tyler Yeargain, Legislative Affairs Coordinator, Student Government Association, UCF
Dr. Masyada and Mr. Yeargain discuss with participants why engagement with civic life matters and describe ways in which college students can become involved within the university and broader community to make a difference as citizens.

We are grateful for everyone that contributed to the discussions, for our panel members and keynote, and for Ms. Marcia Bexley, program manager for the Lou Frey Institute, who worked in conjunction with our own Laura Stephenson in ensuring that the symposium this year went off without a hitch. I encourage you to check out some of the other Lou Frey Institute symposia as well! The archives for the past few years can be found here.