LBJ School launches virtual series, 'LBJ In the Arena,' to explore public policy's critical role in dealing with COVID-19

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April 1, 2020

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Margaret Justus, Justus Communications LLC, 281-250-8253
Dr. Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, Assistant Dean for Civic Engagement, 312-480-1868,

Graphic: LBJ In the Arena


Series to examine COVID-19's impact through a public policy lens

AUSTIN, TEXAS, March 26—In recent weeks, COVID-19 has reshaped the way Americans live, work, learn and govern. In response, the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin, will convene LBJ In the Arena, an eight-week virtual event series exploring the impact of COVID-19 on our communities, starting April 1, 2020.

"In the Arena," a phrase made famous by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1910 and the overarching theme of the LBJ's School 50th anniversary in 2020, will feature policymakers, practitioners, scholars, business leaders and creative thinkers leading the response to and recovery from the coronavirus. Speakers will explore the issues of emergency response, urban policy and cities, national security, food and supply chains, public finance and equity — all impacted by COVID-19.

UT News: LBJ School Launches Virtual Series, 'LBJ In the Arena' (March 30, 2020)

"In launching LBJ In the Arena, we will bring participants to the frontline of public policy and governance," explained LBJ School Dean Angela M. Evans. "The LBJ School has always been at the forefront of the policy issues impacting our country, and COVID-19 offers a real-time opportunity to learn how policy is shaped, implemented and evaluated."

LBJ In the Arena will meet virtually on Wednesdays from noon to 1 p.m. CT via Zoom. Registration for these virtual sessions can be found on the LBJ School Eventbrite page. All session content, including associated videos, readings and summaries, is free and will be made available every Friday on the LBJ School website and YouTube channel. Initial 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, speaks with Marianne Kah, the chief economist at ConocoPhillips and a past president of the U.S. Association for Energy Economics. They look at 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 Plus will be sufficient to bring oil production in line with demand. They also explore 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 talks 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 will discuss the immediate and long-term risks of the virus and engage in a conversation of 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 turn to Edward DeSeve, President Obama's special adviser who oversaw the successful implementation of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The LBJ School's Martin Luby sits down with DeSeve to discuss lessons learned from the vast implementation challenges of this scope of recovery funding from our recent experience during the great financial crisis of 2007–08.


About the LBJ School of Public Affairs
The LBJ School, founded by President Lyndon B. Johnson, celebrates its landmark 50th anniversary in 2020. Ranked #8 among the nation's graduate public affairs schools by U.S. News & World Report, the LBJ School makes a difference, not only within the walls of academia, but also in the public and social dialogue of the world. Contributing viable solutions to society is the LBJ School's legacy and its signature arena. Its effectiveness in channeling the purpose and passion of students into professional careers is evident in the success of more than 4,500 graduates who are the living legacy of President Johnson's bold and fearless action. The University of Texas at Austin is home to the LBJ School. For more, visit


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