Citizenship and Partisanship

Authorities in politics and environmental policy will address the meaning of citizenship in an increasingly partisan world.

From left: Joseph Sestak, Lisa Jackson and James Gerlach '77

By Christine Baksi

Contemporary leaders in national politics and policy will discuss the meaning of citizenship in an increasingly partisan world and the many ways it defines public debate, impacts civic engagement, influences the political process and shapes news coverage. The event will be held on Friday, Sept. 27, at 3 p.m. at Dickinson's Allison Hall, formerly Allison Church, at 99 Mooreland Avenue. It is free and open to the public.

The panelists are U.S. Rep. James Gerlach'77, who represents Pennsylvania's 6th district; former U.S. representative, three-star admiral and candidate for Pennsylvania's U.S. Senate seat Joseph Sestak; and Lisa Jackson, Apple's vice president of environmental initiatives and former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator under President Barack Obama.

Dickinson Associate Professor of Political Science Douglas E. Edlin will moderate the discussion, which will tackle tough questions associated with party affiliation and civic identity: Will all issues in Washington continue to be debated down party lines? Will we return to civilized discussion, regardless of political affiliation? Current political and policy issues such as environmental protection will be used to illustrate how partisanship and party affiliation influences civic engagement and discourse.

Gerlach is serving his sixth term in Congress, representing portions of Berks, Chester, Lebanon and Montgomery counties. In 2010, he earned a spot on the influential House Committee on Ways and Means and its subcommittees on Health and Select Revenue Measures. Gerlach has been recognized by the National Journal and Roll Call for a strong record as an independent voice for his constituents.

Sestak, currently serves as the General Omar N. Bradley Chair in Strategic Leadership and is teaching at Dickinson, the U.S. Army War College and the Penn State University Dickinson School of Law and International Affairs. His distinguished 31-year-career in the U.S. Navy included command of the George Washington Aircraft Carrier Battle Group comprising 30 ships during combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. He also served as President Bill Clinton's director for defense policy on the National Security Council. Sestak represented Pennsylvania's 7th District in the U.S. House of Representatives for two terms, from 2007 to 2010, and ran for Senate in 2010.

Jackson is the 2013 recipient of the Sam Rose '58 and Julie Walters Prize at Dickinson College for Global Environmental Activism and will lead discussions with Dickinson students and faculty during a two-day campus residency. She currently serves as Apple's vice president of environmental initiatives, reporting to CEO Tim Cook. Jackson oversees Apple's industry-leading efforts to minimize its impact on the environment, including removing toxins from its products, incorporating renewable energy in its facilities and continually raising the bar for energy efficiency in the electronics industry. Jackson led the EPA from 2009 to 2013 and focused on core issues of reducing greenhouse gases, protecting air and water quality, preventing exposure to toxic contamination and expanding outreach to communities on environmental issues. Prior to this, she was chief of staff to New Jersey Governor Jon S. Corzine and commissioner of the state's Department of Environmental Protection. In recognition of her work, she has been listed twice on Time magazine's list of the "100 Most Influential People in the World."

For more information, visit The Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues.

The panel discussion serves as the kick-off event for the inauguration of Dickinson's 28th president, Nancy A. Roseman.

Published Sep. 23, 2013