Reflection prompts for students following Stacey Abrams’ convocation address

15 September 2020

Many of this year’s convocation speakers are leaders in fields that intersect directly with civic engagement. Carleton students have a rich opportunity to make vital connections between these speakers’ insights, their civic engagement coursework and collaborations, and their own lives.

We want to support the extraordinary work ACE faculty are already doing to facilitate these connections, and in that spirit we plan to offer discussion questions around the work of each convocation speaker this fall. Please let us know if you have any suggestions for how we could make this offering more useful to you and your students!

Here are our critical reflection prompts following Stacey Abrams’s convocation keynote address on September 14:

  • Abrams is a very intentional communicator across lines of difference. What tactics does she use, and how effective are they?
  • How does Abrams respond to the polarization of political discourse in the United States? Does she seek to perpetuate or remedy it?
  • In this profile, Abrams suggests that the political polarization in the United States is an effect of media polarization. What lessons can be taken from her convocation address about how citizens should respond to each of these issues?
  • In this profile, published in May 2019, Abrams suggests reparations for African Americans and Native Americans is becoming a more credible possibility because people are now willing to have conversations about it. What does this suggest about the role community action plays in public discourse, and how do you think this discourse has changed in the past year?
  • In this interview, Abrams describes how, since 2013, when the Supreme Court struck down key provisions of the Voting Rights Act, access to voting has been increasingly restricted, particularly among poor communities and communities of color, and that voter suppression works both by blocking access and by making people feel defeated. Abrams started Fair Fight to help combat this. What progress has Fair Fight made, and what are its limits?
  • What did you learn about how Abrams’ individual life experience contributed to her academic learning experience?
  • What skills or capacities does Abrams suggest are needed to create a more just society? Do you share any of those skills or capacities?
  • What is the desired future that Abrams envisions? In what ways is it similar or different to the future you envision?