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Former White House Speechwriter shares her unique perspective at UWL

Democracy Unplugged: The 2016 road to the White House

Former Senior White House Speechwriter Ambassador Carolyn Curiel launched the University’s 2016-17 Public Lecture Series with an informative talk on the contentious US presidential election; the fight that’s making history.

More than 200 students, staff and members of the public attended Democracy Unplugged: The 2016 Road to the White House and were given a fascinating insight into the current election; drawn from the Ambassador’s experience as an insider, an outsider and an academic. In her career in government, the Ambassador served as a Senior White House Speechwriter for President Bill Clinton and as the Ambassador to Belize. Her career in journalism saw her working for ABC News and Washington Post as well as a member of the Editorial Board of The New York Times where she was called the ‘most powerful person in New York politics’. In her current role, the Ambassador is a Clinical Professor of Communications at the Purdue University in Indiana, US.

President Bill Clinton with Ambassador Carolyn Curiel at the Oval Office in the White House

During the evening, Ambassador Curiel shared her perspective on what separates this election from those in the past by analysing the role of the news media in the scandal driven race to the White House. Topics also covered included the increased use of Twitter, which has been utilised by the Republican nominee Donald Trump more than anyone else in politics, and election finances. The Ambassador said, ‘This has been the longest, most expensive, most divisive, most embarrassing, most confounding presidential race in our history.’

Ambassador Curiel also talked about her students’ work as part of the Purdue Institute for Civic Communications (PICC), of which she is both founder and Executive Director of. PICC students create and analyse national polls on voters’ civic confidence on election issues and, last month, conducted a poll that showed what Americans know and believe in about the state of their nation.

Headline poll results shared with the captivated audience, which included the Mayor of Ealing Councillor Dr Patricia Walker, was that 2% of voters will seek counselling if their candidate loses and that 83% of Americans think that the quality of news coverage about the campaign has been of low quality.

From left to right: VC Peter John, Ambassador Carolyn Curiel, Madam Mayor Patricia Walker and Mayor Consort Lawrence Walker

Also in attendance was UWL’s Vice Chancellor Professor Peter John, who said, ‘It was a delight to host the Ambassador who shared a truly unique perspective on the topical election. It was also a delight to hear that, as a Founder of PICC, the Ambassador shares our goals as a Career University by using experimental learning to prepare young people for jobs, whether it is in public service or other fields of communications.’

The evening ended with members of the audience asking the Ambassador questions, followed by a drinks reception where guests were able to discuss the issues raised during the talk.

The Ambassador with guests at the Reception

The next Public Lecture in the series will take place on 1 November where the star of BBC’s hit series ‘The Apprentice’ and Britain’s Business icon, Alumnus Claude Littner will be in conversation with former BBC Media Correspondent Torin Douglas MBE.