Everything You Need to Know About the CSAD Conference

The topic of this year's conference is economic inequality.

The topic of this year’s conference is economic inequality.

As you may have heard, this week marks the beginning of the Center for the Study of American Democracy’s (CSAD) biennial conference. Starting this Wednesday, politicos and economic experts alike will descend on Gambier to discuss “The Politics of Economic Inequality.”

From the College’s website:

Over the course of three days, the conference will take place on the Kenyon campus in Gambier, Ohio, and will involve broad student, faculty, and campus participation. The conference will include public panels and private discussions, with participants from a variety of fields: journalists, political actors, policy analysts, and academic from a variety of disciplines.

So how can you best take advantage of this influx of power and prestige coming to the Hill?


Although all of the CSAD speakers and panelists are famous in their own right, three of the most famous participants are Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Robert Putnam, and Austan Goolsbee.

Douglas Holtz-Eakin

Douglas Holtz-Eakin is a Princeton-educated economist and professor from Pittsburgh, PA (though he now lives in Washington, D.C.). After teaching at Columbia and Princeton, Holtz-Eakin was appointed to President George H.W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisors (CEA), which he served on from 1989-1990. The Council of Economic Advisors wields tremendous influence over the sitting president’s economic policy. It usually consists of a Chief of Staff, about twenty academic economists, and a handful of statisticians.

After working on the CEA, Holtz-Eakin served as Director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), a non-partisan office which evaluates the impact and cost of legislation. He was also the chief economic advisor to John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Robert Putnam

Robert Putnam is a political scientist who currently teaches at Harvard University. His most famous work is Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, which was published in 2000 and references a similarly titled article Putnam published in 1995.

Bowling Alone argues that American’s declining social capital is to blame for a general lack of civil and political engagement. Basically, Putnam thinks the key to overcoming ethnic tension in a diverse society (like, say, ours) is what he calls bridging capital, or the ability to make friends with people you wouldn’t naturally sit with at Peirce. Putnam’s most recent work is American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us (2010).

Austan Goolsbee

Austan Goolsbee is an economist with ties to the Obama administration who teaches at the University of Chicago. After racking up a slew of degrees from Yale (where he beat Ted Cruz at a national debate tournament) and MIT, Goolsbee worked for the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) and the CBO (like Holtz-Eakin). Anyone who’s taken an econ class at Kenyon has probably looked at NBER data. They’re a big deal. Goolsbee has also written columns for The New York Times and Slate.

Goolsbee and Obama go back to when he joined the Illinois senator’s campaign as an economic advisor in ’04. In 2009, Obama appointed him to the CEA. As Chair of the Council, Goolsbee acted as a media spokesperson for many of Obama’s policies. Here’s Goolsbee appearing on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.


Here are the events you should definitely check out (here’s a complete schedule of events):


Opening Address: “Inequality and America,” 7:30 pm, Rosse Hall

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former Director of the Congressional Budget Office and
chief economic policy adviser to McCain presidential campaign
Introduced by Sean Decatur, President of Kenyon College


“Inequality of Opportunity,” 11:10 am, Rosse Hall

Robert Putnam, Harvard University
Introduced by Max Rappoport (’14)

Panel: Public Narratives about Inequality, 2:40 pm, Gund Gallery CFT

Ross Douthat, New York Times
Jim Tankersley, Washington Post
Lizzie O’Leary, Marketplace
Moderated by Jay Corrigan, Professor of Economics

Public Reception (free food)
4:00pm, Gund Gallery Atrium

“Inequality and the Market,” 7:30pm, Rosse Hall

Austan Goolsbee, University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business,
former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers to President Obama
Introduced by Eleanor Ritchie (‘14)


“Rising inequality: Where do we go from here?” 11:30 am, Gund Gallery CFT

Neera Tanden, President, Center for American Progress
Introduced by Jon Green (’14)

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