Compact Nation Podcast Season 4 Episode 14

American Conversations: This time on #CompactNationPod—something a little different. We’re releasing a new series of minisodes created by students, for students as part of the American Conversations project at St. Olaf College. Each minisode covers an issue related to the 2020 election, ranging from agriculture and environmental policy to education. Through research and personal anecdotes, the students explore issues and offer calls to action for their peers.

Join us this episode as we talk to four of the student podcasters, and check below for the full series of American Conversations minisodes.

Keep the conversation going! Weigh in online with #CompactNationPod.

Your Hosts

Andrew Seligsohn
Andrew Seligsohn is the current president of Campus Compact and a #CompactNationPod co-host.

Marisol Morales
Marisol Morales is Campus Compact’s vice president for network leadership and a #CompactNationPod co-host.

Emily J. Shields
Emily Shields is the current Iowa Campus Compact executive director, acting director of Minnesota Campus Compact, and a #CompactNationPod co-host.

American Conversations Minisodes

This podcast minisode was created for students by students at St. Olaf College as part of the American Conversations project. For more information about these minisodes, check out season 4 episode 14, “American Conversations.”

Although the United States has long served as host for a great number of diverse people, it also has a history of rejecting and mistreating minority groups. Even today, many disenfranchised and marginalized peoples are struggling for fair treatment in this nation of “equality for all.” This is certainly true for the LGBTQIA+ community. In this podcast, we explore this community’s fight throughout the last century as well as current and past cultural and political shifts regarding the LGBTQIA+ community.

This podcast minisode was created for students by students at St. Olaf College as part of the American Conversations project. For more information about these minisodes, check out season 4 episode 14, “American Conversations.”

Loan-ly Students: An Exploration of America’s Student Debt Crisis
In recent years, the price of a post-secondary education has drastically increased, forcing millions to take out unmanageable loans. Many students have grown uncertain about paying for a college education as national student debt has spiraled out of control. This podcast explores the reasons why student debt has increased so much over the past few decades, analyzes the different debt policies that are being proposed by current 2020 presidential candidates, and offers multiple perspectives on the debt crisis from current college students. Additionally, Carly Eichhorst, the Director of Financial Aid at St. Olaf College, provides insight into the present financial challenges faced by American colleges and universities.

This podcast minisode was created for students by students at St. Olaf College as part of the American Conversations project. For more information about these minisodes, check out season 4 episode 14, “American Conversations.”

The Privatization of American Prisons
Mike Guzman, Cates Eliasen, Grace Lofstrom, and Matthew Myers

In our podcast, we explain and analyze private prisons from historical, political, and international perspectives. We begin by providing a brief history of American private prisons that focuses on the rapid growth of the prison population since the 1980s. Then we explain and analyze political perspectives from both major parties. Democrats and left-leaning individuals and organizations are generally critical of private prisons because of mistreatment of inmates, reduced opportunities for rehabilitation, and little or no financial savings. Republicans and conservatives, on the other hand, have championed private prisons largely for their financial savings and because they are an opportunity to reduce the size of the government. We also briefly highlight recent laws and events relating to private prisons during both the Obama and Trump Administrations. Finally, we compare private prisons in the United States with those in Japan and Mexico to demonstrate other ways in which privatization occurs in the penal system. Throughout the podcast, we draw on interviews with Carlos Gallego and Alissa Bidwell in order to add different perspectives to our podcast.

This podcast minisode was created for students by students at St. Olaf College as part of the American Conversations project. For more information about these minisodes, check out season 4 episode 14, “American Conversations.”

Agriculture and Environmental Policy: What most Americans don’t know
A podcast by Wyatt Andrews, Marlee Baron, Owen Pederson, and Greta Van Loon 

Environmental policy is a very important issue, but how is it being prioritized in the 2020 presidential election? This podcast examines the less well-known issue of agricultural policy, and the way certain farming practices such as no-till farming could help save the environment. We spoke with Hannah Read, a student involved in a carbon neutralization effort with the St. Olaf Band; David Legvold, a local farmer doing everything he can to minimize environmental damage; and Abby Wesnofske, a student with the experience of living on a potato farm. Additionally, we touch on the environmental and agricultural stances of presidential candidates in the 2020 election.

This podcast minisode was created for students by students at St. Olaf College as part of the American Conversations project. For more information about these minisodes, check out season 4 episode 14, “American Conversations.”

Healthcare is becoming a key component of the 2020 election. Both parties hold varying stances on healthcare, but one question remains: how should the U.S. government make healthcare accessible for its citizens? In this podcast, we touch on the history of the healthcare system and the health insurance industry before tackling the intricate web of public and privatized medical care. We interview healthcare economist, Ashley Hodgson, share personal experiences, and interrogate assumptions at the core of American health. In our healthcare 101 podcast, we review each party’s major health platforms and investigate socio-economic and demographic concerns before looking at their impact on the 2020 election.

This podcast minisode was created for students by students at St. Olaf College as part of the American Conversations project. For more information about these minisodes, check out season 4 episode 14, “American Conversations.”

​Income Inequality
Thomas DeLay, Max McDonald, Jennifer Terrones-Rodriguez, and Sophie​ ​Vlahoulis

This podcast sheds light on the history of economic policies, specifically tax rates, and how they have contributed to the economic divide we see today. Included in this podcast are notes on increased inflation rates since 2007, marginal tax rates, and relevant policies advocated for by the leading candidates in the 2020 presidential election—including Andrew Yang’s Universal Basic Income, or, the $1,000 a month plan—that highlight how economic policies and tax rates affect our nation and its future. We are joined by Jason Goede, a business aid coordinator at Wisconsin Lutheran High School, to discuss the cultural impacts of economic inequality—some of which are being especially felt amid the outbreak of COVID-19.

This podcast minisode was created for students by students at St. Olaf College as part of the American Conversations project. For more information about these minisodes, check out season 4 episode 14, “American Conversations.”

Educational Policy

Education policy is one of the largest issues in the upcoming election and many Democrats have similar views, but different approaches to Education reform. Sen. Sanders has been proposing making all public 4-year institutions free since his presidential bid in 2016. Moderates like Sen. Klobuchar and former Vice President Joe Biden favor only making 2-year institutions and vocational schools free. This podcast explores policies in higher education and takes an economic approach to both a trade-school and 4-year free platform while also analyzing some of the current policies being proposed by the current Department of Education run by Trump-appointed Betsy Devos.

This podcast minisode was created for students by students at St. Olaf College as part of the American Conversations project. For more information about these minisodes, check out season 4 episode 14, “American Conversations.”

The ‘Foreign’ Factor: The Role of Foreign Policy in American Elections
Kristian Noll, Aerin O’Malley, Duncan Forbes

While Donald Trump’s unpredictable foreign policy has upended many of America’s relationships with other nations, few American voters value foreign policy as much as domestic issues in their vote choice. In this podcast, Aerin O’Malley, Kristian Noll, and Duncan Forbes identify three main issues important to most American voters—healthcare, economy, and electability—and explore how deeply each one is related to foreign policy. Ultimately, they argue that American voters should be more attuned to global developments and value foreign policy more in their voting choices, particularly in the context of the 2020 election.

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