In the 2016/2017 academic year, Virginia Tech’s School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) will host a conference entitled Faith in the System: Restoring Trust in Government in a Time of Complex Governing Challenges, supported by the Ridenour Faculty Fellowship (RFF) endowment. This will be the fifth RFF conference dedicated to the creative and energetic interdisciplinary exchange of ideas focused on a pressing public question or issue. This year, for the first time, RFF will team up with the Center for Public Administration and Policy to hold the conference in conjunction with CPAP’s High Table Celebration. The combination of two great traditions, the Ridenour Faculty Fellowship and CPAP’s long standing High Table Celebration will span two days, March 24th and 25th, and will focus on the central theme of trust in government.
The headlines in 2016 were dominated by major political events such ‘Brexit’ and the United States presidential election that highlighted polarized and frustrated national electorates. In addition, local and state governments faced complex issues from lead poisoning in the Flint, Michigan water supply, to confrontations between police and communities across the country, to protests on the indigenous grounds of Standing Rock in North Dakota. Over the past few years, the Gallop Poll has shown trust in our elected officials and public institutions at historic lows. What is next for governments at home and abroad coping with limited capacity to deliver services, protect citizens, and respond to economic and social crises?
The conference aims at bringing together faculty and students from across our university, featuring prominent scholars, advocates and practitioners who will deliver keynote lectures and/or engage in roundtable discussions. This year’s program will feature several prominent speakers, including Dr. Marc Edwards, Dr. Christopher Foreman, and Dr. Virgil A. Wood.