Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy opens with speaker panel

The panel will stream on Jan. 14 at 4:30 p.m. CST and feature Al Gore, Condoleezza Rice and Jon Meacham.


Geena Han

Calhoun Hall on a sunny day, photographed on Sept. 11, 2020. (Hustler Multimedia/Geena Han)

Jessica M. Barker, News Editor

As part of the new Vanderbilt Project on Unity & American Democracy, there will be a virtual conversational panel featuring Al Gore, Condoleezza Rice and Jon Meacham on Thursday, Jan. 14 at 4:30 p.m. CST.

The panel, held in conjunction with the Chancellor’s Lecture Series, will begin with former Vice President Al Gore providing the framework for the project’s approach to advancing unity. Gore, an alumnus of the university, spoke as part of the Chancellor’s Lecture Series in 2019. Then, the panel will continue with a discussion between professor Jon Meacham and 66th U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on evidence-based policymaking. 

Meacham taught the U.S. Elections course during the Fall 2020 semester, which garnered national news attention for a quiz question and for his contributions on MSNBC. In late 2020, Meacham transitioned from contributor to guest on MSNBC in light of the news channel’s discovering of Meacham’s contributions to Biden’s victory speech.

The virtual event is open to both the Vanderbilt community and the general public, but individuals must register beforehand to attend.

The Project, according to its website, seeks to examine historical movements and elevate research-based reasoning in an effort to unify the polarized United States. The project’s leadership includes former TN governor Bill Haslam, former White House Fellow Samar Ali, Dean of the College of Arts and Science John Geer, Executive Director Gray Sasser and Meacham. 

Following this panel, the Project will create and disperse research and evidence in order to elevate it into the national conversation.

By adhering to the historical and empirical record, The Vanderbilt Project on Unity and American Democracy will reinvigorate our national discourse, the public, and our leaders in the possibilities and promises of democracy,” the Project’s concept paper reads. “Through this crucial work, the Project will shine light on what binds Americans together allowing it to illuminate the path toward that more perfect union.”