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SCC Democracy Days to Explore Facism, Fake News, the Politics of Food

Michael Kuelker, Democracy Days Founder
SCC Professor of English and Democracy Days Founder Michael Kuelker speaking at Democracy Days at St. Charles Community College in 2014.

Democracy Days’ will be held at St. Charles Community College Monday through Thursday, September 18 to September 21. The mission of Democracy Days is “to examine the history, health and functioning of democracy in America and abroad.” The multi-day forum has been held annually at SCC since September 2001.

“This is another strong year for this educational forum,” said Michael Kuelker, English professor. “Our topics are historical and also up-to-the minute, ranging from Ferguson to fascism to food and factory labor, and our presenters include students, faculty, staff, SCC President Barbara Kavalier and guest speakers.”

All events are free and open to the public.

Monday, Sept. 18

The Tragedy and Hope of Democracy: The Internment of Japanese Americans During WWII | 10 a.m. | SSB auditorium
Following a brief history of how the events of World War II led to the herding and confinement of 120,000 Japanese Americans, Denise Halel, (speech adjunct faculty) will explore the fear and prejudice that led to the confinement of some 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II. The Japanese American internment has been described as the worst official civil rights violation of modern U.S. history. This session will also include a short video of Japanese American George Takei, as he describes his experience in a Japanese internment camp.

The Politics of Food | 11:30 a.m. | SSB auditorium
Dan Rezny, (history professor), conjures up a feast of information and analysis on the political dimensions of what we eat. The presentation will cover seminal historical moments such as the publication of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, the sit down movement, the work of Cesar Chavez and the roles of globalization, race and the environment. And naturally, food workers yesterday and today are a central part of this discussion.

The Prose of Protest | 1 p.m. | SSB auditorium
The current political climate of the United States has created an environment that is rife for protest in its many forms: marches, picket lines, vigils, speeches. This panel, moderated by Joe Baumann, (English instructor), examines another form of popular protest with a rich history: the written word.

Following a brief history of the use of literature as protest, members of the Fall 2017 Fiction Writing class will present their protest writing and discuss their motivations and inspirations for writing, as well as what they hope the power of art and the written word can achieve in a time of turmoil and upheaval.

Pros vs. Joes: Who’s the Boss? | 1 p.m. | Student Center 205
Of the many oppositional divides highlighted by the 2016 election, perhaps none is more pressing than the split between populism and technocracy. Should we be ruled by the finely-tuned subtleties of the expert or the natural impulses of the common man? Charles DeBord, (assistant philosophy professor), examines the dangers to democracy inherent in both approaches to government and employ the history of philosophy to call us back to an alternative way forward.

Tuesday, Sept. 19

IN THE NEWS: An Open-Mike Session for Students | 11:30 a.m. | SSB auditorium
Lisa Randoll, (political science adjunct faculty), holds an open forum for students’ views, questions and experiences regarding current events and political issues that are impacting their lives. Come join the conversation! See how real politics can be. The dialogue will be conducted in a way to allow people to speak their minds without fear of ridicule.  

Shaping Policy: Women in Leadership Roles | 1 p.m. | SSB auditorium
Barbara Kavalier, Ph.D., SCC president, chairs a blue ribbon panel discussion with women about their experiences in and analysis of the world of politics. Stay tuned to for announcements about the participants!

Wednesday, Sept. 20

Immigrants Among Us | 10 a.m. | SSB auditorium
Sandra Arumugam-Osburn, Professor and Chair of the Communications and Arts department at St. Louis Community College at Forest Park, focuses on immigrants – who they are and what their economic contributions are to our community. She is also part of the St. Louis Mosaic Project, which works with immigrants in a variety of ways. As an immigrant herself, Arumugam-Osburn will share stories of her journey to the United States and some of the cultural challenges of living in a different country.

‘Fake News’: A Workshop in Critical Thinking | 10 a.m. | Tech 112 | Advance reservation required
Theresa Flett, SCC reference librarian, conducts a hands-on workshop for students in which they will get a chance to practice using the tools and skills needed to evaluate online news resources. Due to limited seating, please reserve a spot with beforehand.  

Industrial Revolution and the Problems of Transitioning Workforces | 11:30 a.m. | SSB auditorium
The Crusades and the fall of Constantinople saw Medieval Europe and its feudal system give way to new influences from China and the Middle East. New technologies create commercial innovation, notes presenter Debra Crank Lewis, (history professor), and we see change in the way work creates an economy and the emerging Industrial Revolution creates new challenges from those experienced on the feudal manor. 

The F Word – Fascism – What it is Where it Exists | 1 p.m. | SSB auditorium
Fascism had a foothold in America long before August 2017 when neo-Nazis and white supremacists held a rally that turned violent in Charlottesville, Va. But what is fascism exactly? Michael Kuelker, (English professor), who teaches Holocaust literature, will begin with an academically rigorous definition and proceed into the dark recesses of fascist ideologies in the U.S. and Europe past and present.

Responsible Journalism and its Portrayal in Film | 2:30 p.m. | SSB auditorium
Nominated for an Academy Award, Good Night, and Good Luck is the story of Edward R. Murrow, a journalist at CBS who challenged the irresponsible actions of Senator Joseph McCarthy. Starring George Clooney, Robert Downey, Jr., and David Strathairn, the film examines the golden age of television journalism and the efforts of one of the most revered newsmen of American history. Sean Neuerburg, (English adjunct faculty) leads a discussion after the film.

The Birth of a Nation | 6:30 p.m. | SSB auditorium

This 2016 film dramatizes a seminal episode in American history when Nat Turner, an enslaved black preacher, led a slave rebellion in Virginia in 1831. Grace Moser, (associate professor of History) leads a discussion after the film.

Thursday, Sept. 21

Ferguson: A Panel Discussion | 10 a.m. | SSB auditorium
Heather Taylor, the President of the Ethical Society of Police, joins SCC faculty Grace Moser, (associate professor of History), Paul Roesler, (political science professor), and Marvin Tobias, (psychology professor), to explore post-Ferguson 2014. The session will cover everything from historical context to bias, discrimination and body cameras.

US Elections: A Panel Discussion | 11:30 a.m. | SSB auditorium
This panel discussion, moderated by Paul Roesler, (political science professor), will delve into the issues surrounding Donald Trump’s 2016 election victory such as the Comey investigation, the rise of the alt-right, Russian hacking of the DNC emails and the impact of the electoral college. Discussants include Steve Randoll, (associate professor of history), and Gabe Harper, (political science adjunct faculty).

For more information on Democracy Days, visit or email 

St. Charles Community College strives to provide reasonable accommodations to all people at any SCC-sponsored event. Please contact Disability Support Services at or 636-922-8581 as early as possible to discuss your needs.

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