LBJ In the Arena | LBJ School of Public Affairs | The University of Texas at Austin

LBJ In the Arena

On Wednesdays at noon CT via Zoom, LBJ faculty experts talk with the policymakers, practitioners, scholars, business leaders and creative thinkers leading coronavirus response and recovery. Register for these virtual sessions on the LBJ School Eventbrite page.

All session content, including associated videos, readings and summaries, is free and available here and on the LBJ School YouTube channel.

June 1, 2020: Keeping Students Connected During the COVID-19 Crisis

Arne Duncan, U.S. secretary of education in the Obama administration and former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, joins Dean Angela Evans to discuss the challenges and potential opportunities policymakers face to keep all U.S. students safe, connected and educated during the COVID-19 crisis. Duncan, now managing partner at Emerson Collective, will also talk about the urgency to open up broadband in low-income communities to keep students connected at home, and the work he's been doing since schools closed with local leaders, lawmakers, telecommunications companies and the FCC to ensure that happens.



Coming Up

  • June 3, 2020: What is the Pandemic Teaching Us About U.S. Broadband?
    The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of broadband internet connections in maintaining economic and social activities. In the COVID-19 context, how has U.S. broadband infrastructure performed under the unprecedented load placed on it by the pandemic? Have existing disparities in affordable broadband access been exacerbated by the pandemic, and are policy responses needed to remediate inequities? And is the migration of economic and social activities online likely to be irreversible? LBJ Professor Kenneth Flamm is joined by Tony Grubesic, UT's associate dean of research for the School of Information, and Sharon Strover, professor in UT's Moody College of Communication.



  • June 11, 2020: U.S. Election Security in the Shadow of COVID-19
    Elections are regarded as a reflection of the strength and qualities of a country's democracy. The 2016 election revealed deep flaws in the U.S. voting process. Election security was a national security concern in 2020 even before the global COVID-19 pandemic put the logistics of an election into question. What is the status of the critical infrastructure that underpins fair and open voting? Can we ensure a voting process that upholds confidence in American democracy? How can the federal agencies work with state and local election entities to create safe practices that maintain confidence in the voting process? In a moment of turbulence and distrust, can America have an election that is secure? Lawrence Norden, director of the Election Reform Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, joins LBJ Dean Angela Evans in this session co-hosted by the Aspen Institute to discuss American elections in the midst of a global pandemic.



Previous Sessions

  • April 8, 2020: Jails and Prisons in the Era of COVID-19
    LBJ Senior Lecturer Michele Deitch, the leading international expert on prison and jail oversight, sits down with LBJ alumna Nancy La Vigne (MPAff '91), vice president for justice policy at the Urban Institute, and Dr. Ronald Day, vice president of programs at the Fortune Society, to discuss the far-reaching effects of COVID-19 on the criminal justice system, including policing, confinement conditions in jails and prisons, and state and local reforms.
  • April 8, 2020: Bonus Interview: FEMA: Leading in the COVID-19 Crisis
    Renowned public management scholar and LBJ Professor Don Kettl talks with Admiral Thad Allen, the lead federal official for the responses to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and the national incident commander for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Allen brings his expertise on addressing large-scale, complex disasters and operational challenges that require unity of effort among diverse stakeholders to our current context.
  • April 15, 2020: Managing the Fiscal Meltdown
    LBJ Professors James Galbraith, a world-renowned economist, and Michael Lind, one of the nation's foremost public intellectuals, unpack the human impact of the economic crisis set off by the current public health crisis. Galbraith and Lind bring a set of perspectives that bridges history, economic theory and practical experience in the international and national policy making arenas.
  • April 22, 2020: Energy Markets in Times of Crisis
    LBJ Professor Dr. Aldo Flores-Quiroga, the former deputy secretary of energy for hydrocarbons at Mexico's Ministry of Energy, spoke with Marianne Kah, the former chief economist at ConocoPhillips and a past president of the U.S. Association for Energy Economics. They discussed the impact on oil markets brought on by the decrease in oil demand due to COVID-19, and whether the new deal announced by OPEC+ will be sufficient to bring oil production in line with demand. They also explored post-crisis potential futures for the energy industry while looking back to history for relevant lessons learned.
  • April 29, 2020: Modeling COVID-19 and Its Policy Applications
    LBJ School Assistant Dean of Civic Engagement Victoria DeFrancesco Soto talked with Dr. Lauren Ancel Meyers, a professor in the Departments of Integrative Biology and Statistics and Data Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Meyers has been at the forefront of modeling COVID-19 outbreaks and informing government agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the White House Office for Science and Technology. She discussed the immediate and long-term risks of the virus and how policy and science have interfaced in the COVID-19 context.
  • May 6, 2020: Now the Hard Work Begins: Implementing Trillions in Economic Recovery Funds
    The largest economic recovery legislation in history (CARES Act) just passed and more funding is expected. The question now is how do you spend the stimulus funds. To answer this question we turned to Edward DeSeve, President Obama's special advisor who oversaw the successful implementation of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). DeSeve joins the LBJ School's Martin Luby to discuss lessons learned about vast challenges of implementing his scope of recovery funding from the great financial crisis of 2007–08.
  • May 20, 2020: The Collision of a Refugee and Health Crisis
    An unprecedented global migration crisis has now collided with the COVID-19 pandemic. How do the most vulnerable — those fleeing persecution, climate catastrophes and the protection of fundamental rights — navigate a world upended by a global public health crisis? Eric Schwartz, the president of Refugees International, joins the LBJ School's Dr. Ruth Wasem, one of the nation's foremost immigration experts, for a moderated conversation on the intersection of human migration within a pandemic reality.
  • May 27, 2020: Food Insecurity in the Domestic and International COVID-19 Context
    For decades the number of undernourished people had been declining, but as of 2015 this is no longer the case. Current trends of food insecurity are especially alarming in the context of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Supply chain pressures and international movement restrictions coupled with a global economic crisis are exacerbating the existing food security crisis. What is the policy solution to addressing immediate food needs? What is the broader long-term road map? How does the U.S. balance domestic and global food insecurity pressures? And who are the people at greatest risk of suffering from food insecurity as a result of COVID-19? LBJ Professors Erin Lentz and Raj Patel talk about food insecurity in the midst of a pandemic.