More than 50,000 people were expected to travel to Milwaukee for the 2020 Democratic National Convention before the event was downsized due to the pandemic and postponed by a month to mid-August. The downscaled convention still provides an opportunity to examine a range of issues in Milwaukee and Wisconsin, many of which resonate nationally. Additional information is available on UWM’s DNC 2020 website.
Joel Rast, Milwaukee and socialism
Milwaukee had three Socialist Party mayors in the 20th century, the last being Frank Zeidler, whose 12-year tenure ended in 1960. An associate professor of political science, Rast can discuss parallels between Milwaukee socialism and the kinds of ideas promoted by presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who says he supports democratic socialism. Rast can talk about the rise and decline of the political influence of Socialists in Milwaukee. He can also speak about some of the lasting legacies of the Socialist administrations including the city’s accessible lakefront and extensive park system
Thomas Holbrook, presidential campaigns and the political impact of conventions
A distinguished professor of political science, Holbrook can talk about the impact that a political convention can have on voters locally, regionally, statewide and nationally in a presidential race. Holbrook, who has studied campaigns for three decades, can provide context about Wisconsin’s status as a swing state as the 2020 race evolves, as well as voting trends by region within the state in presidential races.
Kyle Reynolds, Fiserv Forum and Milwaukee architecture
The 2020 convention was going to take place at the Fiserv Forum, the home of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, before the pandemic hit. Reynolds can talk about the building’s design as well as the unique characteristics of the burgeoning Deer District, the commercial and residential area surrounding the arena that opened in 2018. An associate professor of architecture, Reynolds can also speak about the history of the yellow, cream-colored bricks common in the Milwaukee area that give southeastern Wisconsin a distinctive look.
Bettina Arnold, history of beer
Milwaukee’s German cultural roots may run much longer than anyone has imagined. An archeology professor, Arnold directed a research team that found the remnants of a 2,500-year-old alcoholic beverage called a “braggot” during excavations of Iron Age burial mounds in Germany. She can talk about this unhopped brew, ancient alcohol around the world and the annual mead-brewing competition hosted by her lab. Arnold can discuss old traditions of beer-drinking and the role of alcohol in human societies. Read her blog, too.
Brett Peters, state of manufacturing
Peters is the dean of UWM’s College of Engineering and Applied Science. An industrial engineer by training, Peters can talk about the present and future of manufacturing, which still represents the largest slice of Wisconsin’s economy. He can speak to why Wisconsin is among the strongest states for manufacturing and the digital transformation of manufacturing. Peters can also discuss changing industrial workforce needs, including the role of partnerships. The college recently established a Connected Systems Institute which partnered with industry and Microsoft to create “smart” factories that optimize production with data streaming on the internet of things.
Alan Shoho, achievement gap, recruiting and retaining teachers
Wisconsin has the largest achievement gap between black and white students in the country. Shoho can talk about issues facing K-12 educators in Milwaukee and the rest of the state, as well as strategies to narrow the gap. He can also speak about the challenges that school districts face to recruit and retain teachers. Shoho, who has been dean of the School of Education since 2015, is also a professor of administrative leadership.
Adrienne Woods, charter schools
Woods is the director of the Office of Charter Schools at UWM’s School of Education. She can speak about the performance of charter schools in Milwaukee and Wisconsin, drawing on data and statistics. Woods can talk about the role that authorizing entities like UWM play in issuing charters, as well as the process of how a school is chartered. She can provide perspective on issues including accountability, equity and serving at-risk populations. Woods is also a clinical associate professor.
Curtis Jones, teacher diversity
Jones is director of UWM’s Office of Socially Responsible Evaluation in Education, which released recent research that found that just 4% of K-12 classroom teachers in Wisconsin are African American or Latinx, compared to 21% of students. He can talk about the study, including how schools can promote work cultures that serve to increase teacher diversity and retention, and how doing so has the potential for narrowing student achievement gaps. He can also speak about research into topics including early childhood literacy and postsecondary preparation.
Margaret Noodin, indigenous nations on Great Lakes coastline and freshwater agricultural practices
A professor of English and American Indian Studies, Noodin is also a scholar in the Center for Water Policy at the School of Freshwater Sciences. She can discuss her projects there including connecting the 48 indigenous nations on the Great Lakes coastline to one another and the center. She is also researching the revitalization of freshwater shoreline agricultural practices.
Amanda Seligman, history of Milwaukee and southeastern Wisconsin
As a lead editor of the Encyclopedia of Milwaukee, Seligman can help answer questions about Milwaukee’s past. With entries covering everything from Hall of Fame baseball player Henry (Hank) Aaron to former Mayor Frank Zeidler, the project aims to provide comprehensive coverage of the history of the city and region. Seligman is a professor of history.
Rachel Ida Buff, immigration in Wisconsin
Buff is an immigration historian who can discuss contemporary and historical immigrant populations in Wisconsin and across the United States. Her professional expertise focuses on the histories of deportation policy and immigrant rights. The history professor also writes about the intersections of mass media, public policy and international law. Her upcoming book is A is for Asylum Seeker: A Glossary of Terms for People on the Move.
Alberto Maldonado, undocumented students and related immigration issues
Maldonado is the director of UWM’s Roberto Hernández Center. He helps lead the Chancellor’s Committee for Hispanic Serving Initiatives at UWM, and has helped draft university policy for undocumented students. Also the chair of the Undocumented Student Task Force at UWM, Maldonado can speak to how the campus responds to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals issues as well as the university’s efforts to recruit and support students. He can do interviews in either English or Spanish.
Chris Cantwell, intersection of religion and politics, history of Midwest
Cantwell is a historian of religion, politics and the Midwest with a particular focus on evangelicalism in particular and Protestantism more broadly. The assistant professor has explored how nostalgia has become a central part of America’s religions communities. Cantwell has published work on the religious histories of social justice movements, American evangelicalism and urban religions. He is also the director of Gathering Places: Religion and Community in Milwaukee, a project that explores the histories of Milwaukee’s places of worship.