This year’s Honors Colloquium to examine ‘Democracy in Peril’

University’s premier public lecture series to examine democracy in year ahead

KINGSTON, R.I. – Feb. 8, 2024 – The University of Rhode Island’s Honors Program will present “Democracy in Peril” as its 61st anniversary Honors Colloquium, following this past fall’s successful Honors Colloquium, examining ‘Business for the Common Good.’

Karen de Bruin, director of URI’s Honors Program, says, “The Honors Colloquium has a history of addressing topics of timely community relevance. This year’s colloquium is no different, with our topic of Democracy in Peril being especially pertinent for the upcoming election cycle and the risks we face globally due to democratic backsliding. We look forward to welcoming the broader community into these discussions.”

The annual free lecture series examines topics of interest in and beyond the URI community and brought a range of speakers to campus this past fall including entrepreneur Idrees “Lanre” Ajakaiye ’95, LGBTQ+ communications expert Lauren Gray, best-selling author Wallace J. Nichols, Eileen Fisher advisor Amy Hall and ocean conservationist (and URI adjunct professor) Richard Vevers. Video links to past lectures are available on the colloquium website.

The coordinators for the next colloquium program come from URI’s departments of Political Science and Marine Affairs:

Marc Hutchison is chair of the department and a past recipient of the URI Foundation Teaching Excellence Award and the Excellence in General Education Award. Hutchison is the director of URI’s John Hazen White Sr. Center for Ethics and Public Service.

Brian Krueger is associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. His work focuses on political behavior in the United States. He is a past recipient of URI’s Advanced Career Faculty Research Excellence Award in the Social Sciences, Arts, and Humanities.

Ashlea Rundlett specializes in Latin American politics with a focus on political corruption and research methodology. Her work has appeared in journals such as the American Political Science Review and the Journal of Conflict Resolution

Elizabeth Mendenhall has a joint appointment with Political Science and Marine Affairs. Her research centers on ocean governance, with recent work addressing maritime nuclear transit and marine plastic pollution. She teaches “International Politics of the Ocean” at URI and is the graduate program director in the department of Marine Affairs. 

The Honors Program will be collaborating with the Center for the Humanities with complementary events. The colloquium is also accompanied by honors courses connecting to the theme of the annual colloquium, taught by Ric McIntyre and Dan Graney. Specific speakers and topics will be announced later this year. 

The announcement of this year’s colloquium topic and coordinators comes as the Honors Program is in a period of redesigning itself. “The URI Colloquium has always examined pressing issues and connected URI students to broader issues,” says Associate Director Karl Aspelund. “We invite students who want to be changemakers to join the fall colloquium or explore our offerings.” 

Other departments on campus working on issues or events pertaining to democracy are invited to contact the Honors Program and this year’s colloquium coordinators if interested in collaborating. The team invites campus-wide participation and discussion of this year’s important topic.

Sign up for more information and reminders for the next colloquium.