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CIC Fellow Explores Demographics, Diversity, and Drivers of Political Change

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Anita Perez Ferguson, Ph.D., recently addressed “Demographic Diversity Driving Political and Cultural Change” during a series of virtual lectures at Georgian Court University. Her keynote talk, delivered to students, faculty, and staff members, explored important topics such as global perspectives on politics, local emphases on politics, and the demographics that drive our elections. 

Dr. Perez Ferguson is a nationally acclaimed scholar, researcher, and teacher known for her expertise on topics such as leadership, diversity, and a changing phase of politics in America. She serves as a visiting fellow of the Council for Independent Colleges, of which Georgian Court is a member institution.

She has written two books—Women Seen and Heard and A Passion for Politics—and directs the Hank Lacayo Institute of Workforce and Community Studies at California State University.

The Intersection of Diversity and Political Change

Portrait of demographics expert Anita Perez Ferguson
Dr. Anita Perez Ferguson

The main topic in the presentation was how demographic diversity affects political change. For example, she said, the United States has a geographic variety that underscores different interests and values within this election. Dr. Perez Ferguson noted how “variety and the variety within our demographic definitions drive this election.

“Demography in the United States drives our elections because the candidates are speaking to the electorate—the people that will cast their vote, and those people come in all shapes and sizes, all colors and faiths, all sorts of value statements,” Dr. Perez Ferguson said. “It drives the message of the election. It drives the political parties to address the interests and concerns across a broad spectrum.”

While national issues are important to the election, Dr. Perez Ferguson also provided advice on two skills that should be most important to students fresh out of college—communication and analysis. She said they are like two-way streets. A person needs to analyze information and understand where the true facts come from, which reinforces the need to be able to communicate effectively to others.

After discussing demographics, she answered questions from GCU world languages assistant professor, Jaime Rivera Flores, Ph.D.

As she discussed politics and belief systems, Dr. Perez Ferguson compared belief systems to two types of restaurants. One is where the customers sit down at large tables and eat from the same foods and enjoy the meal together. The other kind of restaurant she likened to a buffet, where customers can pick and choose what goes on their plates based on what looks good to them at the time.

 “Politically speaking, we are in the buffet line and each of us is picking and choosing the thing that looks good to us at the time,” she said. “We should actually be sitting at the table together and seeing a common meal, sharing a common meal.”

If you missed any of Dr. Perez Ferguson’s public presentations, be sure to check out the videos on our YouTube channel:

Story contributed by Georgian Court University English major Erica Caleca ’20.

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About Georgian Court University

Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is Central and South Jersey’s only Catholic university. GCU is a comprehensive, coeducational university with a strong liberal arts core and a historic special concern for women. As a forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, GCU is known for expanding possibility for more than 2,100 students of all faiths and backgrounds in 35+ undergraduate majors and 10+ graduate programs. The GCU Lions compete in 15 NCAA Division II sports in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC). In 2020, GCU was named a Best Value College by and a Best Bang for the Buck (Northeast) by Washington Monthly. High student retention and graduation rates also make GCU a Top Performer on Social Mobility on U.S. News & World Reports rankings. The main campus is located in Lakewood, New Jersey, on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court, which is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, also serves students at other locations, such as GCU at BrookdaleGCU at Rowan College of South Jersey–Cumberland Campus, and through multiple online certificate and degree programs.

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