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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Aggie Agora conference to address 2016 election

Photo by Laura Haslam

Dr. Mary Stuckey, professor of communication at Georgia State University, delivers the Kurt Ritter Lecture in Political Rhetoric at “Making sense of the Election”, a conference held by Aggie Agora. 

This past weekend Aggie Agora hosted Making Sense of Election 2016, a two-day conference featuring experts from across the United States along with Texas A&M graduate and undergraduate students.

 Hosted at the Brazos Cotton Exchange in Bryan, students and professors had the opportunity to present their research over how a range of topics such as religion, social media and global media coverage impacted the 2016 election cycle. Each presentation was followed by a question and answer session to allow discussion among audience members.
Jennifer Mercieca, Aggie Agora director, conference organizer and A&M professor said the conference is a part of the conversation Aggie Agora started two years ago.

 “The purpose of this conference is to give Texas A&M the opportunity to use their critical thinking skills to think about the 2016 presidential election,” Mercieca said. “This is a continuation of the conversations, lectures and workshops that the Aggie Agora has hosted for the past two years.”

 After submitting a topic proposal, roughly 30 speakers and panelists —  each analyzing different areas of the 2016 election —  were chosen to present at the conference. All speakers are actively engaged in research on current politics and are nationally recognized in their field, according to Mercieca.

 “The conference is explicitly non-partisan, meaning that we are not supported by any political party or working on behalf of any political party,” Mercieca said.

 Jala Naguib, international affairs graduate student and conference panelist, focused her research on the importance of other countries’ perceptions of the United States. Her panel’s research and data included examples from Russian, Chinese, Arabic and Farsi media coverage of the election and analyzed how candidates were framed by each country and region.

 “I don’t think people understand how much the elections were covered or followed in other countries and regions,” Naguib said. “I think it’s incredible important just to see how we are project our image to other countries, when we may not realize it ourselves. The research was really positively reacted to. People were really surprised about some things and they were excited to hear the information.”

 Out of state panelist Mary E. Stuckey, Georgia State University professor, was selected to deliver a lecture on Friday in honor of Kurt Ritter, a retired Texas A&M communication professor with a specialization in political rhetoric. Stuckey’s lecture focused on understanding how the 2016 election relates to the conditions for political change in the country.

 “We tend to always look at what’s happening in the moment as being completely new and different from anything that’s ever happened in the past and a lot of my work has to do with broadening context of current political events so that we can understand what is surprising and what isn’t surprising and what we might expect and what is sort of unexpected, for instance in this case the early days of the Trump presidency,” Stuckey said.

 According to Stuckey, uniting students and scholars for this conference brought about a greater understanding of a diverse range of political perspectives. Mercieca noted all sides of the political spectrum were present at the conference. Naguib said the conference was timely considering current politics.

 “It was really exciting to be able to present our research and be able to tell people about what we found … [the conference was] important, especially in this political climate,” Naguib said. “It’s something that really needed to have been set up.”  

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