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LBJ In the Arena — Public Policy in Combating COVID19

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LBJ In the Arena, a weekly virtual event series exploring the impact of COVID-19 on our communities

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In recent weeks, the way Americans live, work, learn and govern has been reshaped by COVID-19. In response, the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin, one of the country’s leading centers for public policy scholarship, will convene LBJ In the Arena, a virtual event series exploring the impact of COVID-19 on our communities, starting April 1, 2020.

LBJ In the Arena will meet on Wednesdays from noon to 1 p.m. CT via Zoom. If you are RSVP'd you will receive the Zoom link via Eventbrite two hours before the session begins. The Zoom sessions are limited to 300 attendees but all session content, including associated videos, readings and summaries, will be made available every Friday on the LBJ School website and YouTube page.

Please note: The University of Texas has tightened Zoom security settings. As a result of these new measures, all attendees will need to sign into a Zoom account to attend the session. Accounts can be created for free at We apologize for any inconvenience.

May 27, 2020: LBJ In the Arena: Food Insecurity in the Domestic & 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 and 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? To answer these questions and provide a broader understanding of food insecurity LBJ Associate Dean Kate Weaver moderates a conversation with LBJ professors Erin Lentz, and Raj Patel.

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

Arne Duncan, former U.S. Secretary of Education and CEO of Chicago Public Schools, joins Dean Angela Evans to discuss the challenges, and potential opportunities, policy makers 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.  

• 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. Policy debate about broadband connectivity in the United States has come to the forefront. In the CV-19 context how has US broadband infrastructure performed, over all, under the unprecedented load placed on it by the pandemic? Have existing disparities in affordable broadband access been exacerbated by the pandemic, and suggest that new policy responses are needed to remediate inequities? And is the migration of economic and social activities online in response to the pandemic likely to be irreversible in some respects? To address these questions and discuss US broadband policy implications LBJ Professor Kenneth Flamm is joined by UT’s Associate Dean of Research for the School of Information, Tony Grubesic, and UT’s Sharon Strover, Professor in the Moody College of Communication.

• June 11, 2020 - U.S. Election Security in the Shadow of COVID-19 in partnership with the Socrates Program/Aspen Institute

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 the 2020 election cycle 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?

Additional topics and speakers to be announced in the coming days.

Click on the title below to view past sessions:

April 1, 2020: LBJ In the Arena: On the Frontline: Restarting Our Cities

April 8, 2020: Jails and Prisons in the era of COVID-19

Bonus Interview: FEMA: Leading in the COVID-19 Crisis

April 15, 2020: LBJ In the Arena: Managing the Fiscal Meltdown

April 22, 2020: LBJ In the Arena: Energy Markets in Times of Crisis

April 29, 2020: LBJ In the Arena: Modeling COVID-19 and its Policy Applications

May 6, 2020: LBJ In the Arena: Now the Hard Work Begins: Implementing Trillions in Economic Recovery Funds

May 13, 2020: LBJ In the Arena: Pushing the Bounds of COVID-19 Testing and the Search for a Vaccine

May 20, 2020: LBJ In the Arena: The Collision of a Refugee & Health Crisis

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