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PBS-TV Host to Visit Idaho State and Deliver Public Talk on Democracy and Politics

October 24, 2022

A free community event is slated at Idaho State University for the week prior to America’s midterm elections as PBS host Alexander Heffner will deliver a lecture, “Civil Discourse in an Uncivil Age,” on Wednesday, November 2 at 5:30 p.m. in the Salmon River Suites of the Student Union Building.

Heffner, who hosts the long-running television show, “The Open Mind,” and is the coauthor of A Documentary History of the United States, plans to address the state of American democracy as well as the influence of new media on political campaigns, polarization and disinformation.

Alexander Heffner
Alexander Heffner

“I want to find possible prescriptions to correct this divisive political cycle, and will explore how our social footprint can translate into constructive instead of destructive behaviors,” Heffner said recently of his forthcoming engagement in Pocatello. “Specifically, I’m interested in how citizens, governments and the press can restore faith in civic life and the integrity of public policy.”

Heffner has covered American culture and politics since the 2008 presidential campaign, when he founded and edited the first-ever online national student newspaper. Earlier this year, Penguin published the eleventh edition of Heffner’s A Documentary History of the United States, which the ISU bookstore will make available for purchase and signing at the on-campus event.

The talk is being jointly sponsored by the department of Communication, Media & Persuasion, the Political Science department, and ISU’s Cultural Events Committee. Doors open at 5:00 p.m. and the university invites all faculty, students and staff as well as interested community members to attend.

Heffner comes to ISU having delivered public lectures at a cross-section of global locales such as the National Constitution Center, the Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University, the Initiative for Truth at the University of Sydney, the American University in Cairo, the Center for Information and Bubble Studies at the University of Copenhagen, and the University of Wyoming.

With the nation’s midterm elections approaching, Mark McBeth, professor and chair of the Political Science department, considers it important that ISU provides a forum for civil discourse.

"An academic campus should be a place where groups from different backgrounds can gather and listen and learn from each other,” McBeth said. “Alexander Heffner's talk is a good place for a larger campus discussion to start.”

 Heffner’s work has been profiled in the Washington Post, CNN, the Christian Science Monitor, ABC and the BBC. His own writings have appeared in USA Today, the Wall Street Journal and Wired, among other publications.

Additionally, Heffner was the recipient of Franklin Pierce University’s Fitzwater Medallion for Leadership in Public Communication and University of Denver’s Anvil of Freedom Award. He has also earned fellowships from both Johns Hopkins University and Yale.

For more information on this event, please contact Zac Gershberg at zacgershberg@isu.edu


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