College’s Partnership of Polish and American Faculty Shines Light on Threats to Democracy in 21st Century

By | April 25, 2021

Challenges to the integrity of democratic systems in the U.S. were significant and unprecedented—even before the storming of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. in early January.

“Our country and its governing institutions have been facing moments of particular stress,” said Andrew Wise, professor of history and director of Daemen’s Center for Polish Studies (CPS).

Spurred by the historic nature of the 2020 U.S. election and its aftermath—and ongoing challenges faced by democracies around the world, including Poland—Daemen and its partner institution, the American Studies Center (ASC) at the University of Warsaw, are hosting a virtual forum focusing on these issues on Monday, May 3.

Bohdan Szklarski sitting in a chairThe 6 p.m. virtual event via YouTube, Teaching Democracy in Poland and the U.S. in the 21st Century: Challenges and Prospects, is open to all but requires pre-registration.

Headlining the forum is keynote speaker Bohdan Szklarski (left)—the Kosciuszko Visiting Professor of Polish Studies at Daemen and a professor of political science at the University of Warsaw.

As a specialist in the study of political leadership, democracy and political culture, Szklarski draws on his experiences living in Poland while the country constructed its own democratic institutions following the fall of communism in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.

In more recent years, many of the most heated political topics in Poland and the U.S. have shared similarities—including the enforcement of immigration policies and each country’s place and sovereign rights as part of large international organizations; in both nations, polarized political environments and elections have out against a backdrop of charged “culture war” battles rooted in their unique histories.

Hosting the May 3 event from the Buffalo region is especially salient, said Wise, given the area’s history as a home to large populations of Eastern European immigrants and Polish-Americans.

“Buffalo has a long tradition of cultural exchanges, especially with parts of the world that contributed to the initial growth of the city,” said Wise. “Having the discussion at Daemen—as part of an international partnership—serves as the latest iteration of a storied back-and-forth between our respective parts of the world.”

Following Szklarski’s keynote is a roundtable discussion featuring Daemen faculty who have taught in Poland, as part of an exchange program with the ASC at the University of Warsaw, including:

Dr. Lisa Parshall

Dr. Lisa Parshall

  • Robert Morace, distinguished professor of English who taught in Warsaw from 1985-87 and again in 2018;
  • Lisa K. Parshall (right), professor of political science and a public policy fellow at the Rockefeller Institute of Government, who taught in Poland in 2017 and 2021 (virtually);
  • Jay Wendland, associate professor of political science and director of the Honors Program; in 2020, he taught a course (virtually) for the ASC titled, The American Presidential Nomination Process.

In addition to support from the college’s CPS, the event is sponsored by Daemen’s Global Programs Office, and the History and Political Science Department.