EAST BRUNSWICK--When was the last time you took a civics class? This fall, East Brunswick Public Library (2 Jean Walling Civic Center) offers the Understanding America program series. These four special events give the community to learn and discuss some of the biggest issues of the day. The series is co-sponsored by the East Brunswick Friends of the Library. 


The series begins with the program "Special Interests" in Politics: Draining the Swamp or Cultivating the Wetlands? on September 26 at 7:30 pm. Special interest groups and lobbyists are often viewed as examples of corruption, but at the same time have the potential to positively present ideas and provide information to policymakers. This program takes a look at this complicated part of politics.


This program is led by Beth Leech, a professor of Political Science at Rutgers University. Leech's current project, Agendas and Interest Groups, is a three-year, four-country study that compares the policy concerns of interest groups with those of the general public. Funded through the European Commission's Open Research Areas program, this $1.6 million project examines the policies in Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States. 

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In addition to Leech's presentation, there are three other events in this program series.


Elizabeth C. Matto, an Associate Research Professor at the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University, presents Talking Politics: Disagreeing without Being Disagreeable on October 10 at 7:00 pm. The goal of Matto's lecture focuses on the critical goal of being able to engage in honest but productive political discourse. 


On November 7, Carlos Ulises Decena, an Associate Professor and Chair of Latino and Caribbean Studies at Rutgers University, leads the program Immigrant State: New Jersey's Influential Gate. Decena will explore the distinct immigration patterns of our home state. This program is co-sponsored by the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, and it starts at 7:00 pm.


The series ends on December 4 with a screening of the PBS documentary "American Creed." Produced by Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David M. Kennedy, this film chronicles what it means to be an American. Following the film, there will be a discussion moderated by Sylvia Chan-Malik, Associate Professor of American and Women's and Gender Studies at Rutgers University. The "American Creed" screening is co-sponsored by the East Brunswick Human Relations Committee.


All of the programs in the Understanding America series are free and open to the public. To find more information about these and other upcoming programs at the East Brunswick Public Library, visit www.ebpl.org/calendar