Voices of Democracy comes to BW

A September face-off between former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and CNN commentator Van Jones kicks off the free 2016-17 speaker series at BW.

BW hosts prominent ‘Voices of Democracy’ for election year speaker series

June 17, 2016

Voices of Democracy comes to BWFormer House Speaker Newt Gingrich, activist and CNN political commentator Van Jones, and ABC News correspondent and host John Quiñones are among the influential speakers who will headline "Voices of Democracy" at Baldwin Wallace University beginning in September. The 2016-17 series of lectures and panel discussions will explore the issues driving the 2016 presidential election and transition of power in Washington.

Politics, culture, the economy, religion, race and more are all up for discussion. All events are free and open to the public, but entrance tickets will be required. Tickets will be available online starting in July at bw.edu/tickets.

All-star speaker line-up

A highlight of “Voices of Democracy” is the Sept. 29 point/counterpoint, “Presidential Candidates and Promises of Prosperity,” pitting Newt Gingrich, a conservative former U.S. House Speaker, against Van Jones, a progressive activist and CNN political commentator. Although the white-haired, elbows-out Republican and African-American Democrat have teamed on the issue of mass incarceration and justice reform, they agree on little else, including how the election may impact business and the economy.

What would you do? logo

In addition to the Gingrich-Jones face-off, the series includes a March 14, 2017 appearance by John Quiñones, host of the popular ABC prime time series “What Would You Do?”  In his presentation, titled, “What Would You Do? Changing Ethics in America,” Quiñones, challenges the audience to look in the ethical mirror against a backdrop of evolving attitudes about candidate behavior and boundaries of civil discourse.


Paul Loeb and Soul of a CitizenAuthor and activist Paul Loeb, who founded the Campus Election Engagement Project as an antidote to the apathy, cynicism and fear that stop students from working for change, kicks off the series on September 15 with “Soul of a Citizen: How to make your voice heard and actions count.”

An October panel discussion highlighting the perspectives of election observers from Germany’s coalition government, a January 2017 MLK panel on the arts as a catalyst for diversity and inclusion, and a spring lecture on religion and politics are also in the works.

Educating contributing citizens

“Voices of Democracy” builds on earlier BW campus visits by presidential candidates, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Gov. John Kasich, as well as BW student participation in the Republican National Convention (RNC) coming to Cleveland in July. BW’s Berea campus will host and 14 students will attend The Washington Center Academic Convention Seminar, while another faculty-led student group will be embedded in the Ohio Delegation Honorary Delegate program. BW students also continue to be involved in election year polling conducted by BW’s Community Research Institute (CRI).

“We prepare our students for careers, but we also want to educate them to be good contributing members of society,” said BW President Robert C. Helmer. “BW’s swing state location has always given our campus an up-close connection to campaign season events, but that first-person access will be amplified with Cleveland hosting the RNC.” 

Full Event List

Visit bw.edu/democracy for more information and updates to the schedule of events