Post-Election Wrap Up with Craig Volden

On Monday, Nov. 12, Batten students gathered in the Great Hall of Garrett Hall for a post-election wrap-up led by Batten’s Center for Effective Lawmaking (CEL). This was not a typical Batten Hour with the exception that food was served. Rather, the event was reminiscent of a game of musical chairs. Every eight minutes, students moved to a new table, where CEL Director Craig Volden, Operations Director Greer Kelly, CEL researchers and interns, along with Professor of Practice of Public Policy Gerald Warburg, discussed the implications of last Tuesday's midterm election results.

What do election campaigns tell us about the likelihood of effective lawmaking? What are some of the opportunities for reform and policymaking in the new Congress?  How can members of the public help new members of Congress become more effective lawmakers? These were just some of the questions posed to students during the allotted eight-minute segments.

CEl Director Craig Volden

CEL Director Craig Volden

The Center for Effective Lawmaking, while a nascent research center at the Batten School, has made inroads since its inception in fall 2017. The center, run by Volden and Alan Wiseman of Vanderbilt University, seeks to advance the generation, communication, and use of new knowledge about the effectiveness of individual lawmakers and legislative institutions in Congress. The center strives to create a Congress comprised of effective lawmakers with strong institutional capacity and the incentive structure needed to address America’s greatest public policy challenges. For a school of public policy, this is an invaluable resource.

Monday’s Batten hour demonstrated the center's range when it comes to examining the habits that breed effective lawmaking. How does an election and its aftermath both influence and impact lawmaking—for better or for worse?

“These wide-ranging discussions between the Center for Effective Lawmaking and members of the Batten and Charlottesville communities provided numerous valuable insights,” Volden said. “During the discussions, we heard suggestions about bringing our work to the attention of additional audiences, about providing support to new members of Congress, and about some new directions for research. At the same time, participants were able to glean insights about what to expect from lawmaking in the new Congress.”

As the dust settles from last Tuesday's midterm election, the question of what's next for Congress looms large. For students of public policy, those questions beget more questions — making a Batten hour of this nature pertinent and beneficial for students eager to discuss the implications of the midterm results.

Batten Professor of Practice of Public Policy Gerald Warburg

Batten Professor of Practice of Public Policy Gerald Warburg

"The benefit here was that I was able to give them a specific synthesis of what Democrats, Republicans and Trump administration officials have told me are their goals," Warburg said. "By making events that will impact students' lives greatly more accessible, I believe we empower them as learners. [We] teach better when we press students to form their own focused questions and to commit to life-long learning to address them as good citizens, and not just regurgitate approved answers to get a good grade."

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