As polls show Americans’ trust in political leaders diving to historic lows, Virginia Tech’s School of Public and International Affairs (SPIA) is hosting a conference to address the challenge.

The Ridenour Faculty Fellowship Conference and High Table, “Faith in the System: Restoring Trust in Government in a Time of Complex Governing Challenges,” will feature a series of expert speakers and panel discussions on March 24 at the Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center. A limited number of seats are available. Interested participants can email to register. A live audio broadcast will also available via this WebEx link.

Featuring experts from Virginia Tech and beyond, the conference will explore topics ranging from economic inequality to the impact of technology on government trust to how government can restore public confidence while confronting complex global challenges.

Other highlights include:

  • Marc Edwards, the Charles Lunsford Professor of Civil Engineering at Virginia Tech, will deliver the keynote address and discuss his role in unveiling the Flint Water Crisis and the role of academics and scientists in the public arena.
  • Virgil A. Wood, noted civil rights activist, professor, author, and minister, will join a panel discussion on the future of work and income in an era of economic inequality.
  • Christopher Foreman, Brookings Institution Fellow, professor, and director of the social policy program at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy, will present “Scholarship for Citizenship: a Public Affairs Research Odyssey.”

Students from SPIA’s Washington Semester will engage in breakout sessions.

A detailed schedule of events, speakers, and panel topics can be viewed here.

“The Ridenour Faculty Fellowship and High Table brings together the best and brightest minds from across the spectrum of Virginia Tech’s programs in a lively exchange about the government and the path to restoring public trust,” said Professor Anne Khademian, director of SPIA. “Our goals are to engage faculty and students in a thought-provoking interdisciplinary discussion and to reinforce SPIA’s mission of public service leadership and turning scholarship into practice.”

This year’s conference combines two signature events: the Ridenour Faculty Fellowship Conference and the High Table Celebration, organized by the Center for Public Administration and Policy.

The Minnis E. Ridenour Faculty Fellowship is supported by an endowment gift from the Strickler Family of Harrisonburg, Virginia, to honor Ridenour’s service to Virginia Tech and the Commonwealth of Virginia and to foster the creative advancement of SPIA faculty and students in public administration and policy, urban and regional planning, and government and international affairs.

The center's High Table Celebration is a 30-year tradition that originated at Oxford and Cambridge Universities. The event brings together faculty and students to share a meal and lecture by a distinguished scholar.

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