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  • NYS Writers Institute

Telling the Truth 2020: Conversations on the toxic divisions of America's political landscape

The New York State Writers Institute at the University at Albany presents Telling the Truth 2020 on November 11-18, a weeklong series of in-depth conversations with prominent authors, journalists, political observers, social critics, former public officials, and thought leaders examining the toxic divisions of America’s political landscape.

“It’s our hope that Telling the Truth 2020 will be a force for good and will provide a public service by bringing together experts with a wide range of perspective. We want these events to be conversations of healing, of finding common ground, and of listening respectfully to viewpoints different than our own. We hope this weeklong symposium will build bridges of empathy rather than erecting more walls of fear and hatred.”

-- Paul Grondahl, Director of the NYS Writers Institute.

Topics discussed during Telling the Truth 2020 include:

  • the troubling rise of tribalism, 

  • the deep divide and mistrust across the political spectrum, 

  • the manipulation of social media, and 

  • the hijacking of truth through ongoing assaults both internally and from foreign sources who seek to erode the bedrock principles of a free and open democratic society.

Events will be available online at and ​Videos will premiere at 11 a.m. and can be viewed at your convenience at any time following their launch. Many of the conversations were recorded before Election Day.

All events are free and open to the public. No registration required.

Schedule of events: Wednesday, November 11 Elif Shafak, author of How To Stay Sane In An Age Of Division Thursday, November 12 Amy Chua, author of Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations Friday, November 13 Yolanda Caraway, Leah Daughtry, Minyon Moore, co-authors of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Politics Saturday, November 14 Casey B. Mulligan and Joe Grogan. Mulligan served as the Chief Economist of President Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers and more recently authored You’re Hired!: Untold Successes and Failures of a Populist President. Grogan, a 1994 UAlbany graduate, served as Director of the United States Domestic Policy Council and assistant to President Donald Trump. Sunday, November 15 Allison Schrager, financial economist and expert on risk, author of An Economist Walks into a Brothel Michael Strain, economist and Bloomberg Opinion columnist, the author of The American Dream is Not Dead (But Populism Could Kill It. Monday, November 16 John Lithgow, renowned American actor, and the author of two bestselling collections of satirical poetry, Dumpty: The Age of Trump in Verse, and Trumpty Dumpty Wanted a Crown: Verses for a Despotic Age. Tuesday, November 17 David Hopkins is the author of Red Fighting Blue: How Geography and Electoral Rules Polarize American Politics. Wednesday, November 18 Event to be announced at a later date.

Telling the Truth 2020 is the Writers Institute’s third major event of the fall season, following the Albany Book Festival in September and the Time for Reckoning Symposium in October. It is also the third time the Institute has turned its attention to issues of truth-telling, journalism, and ethics. A three-day Telling the Truth in a Post-Truth World event was held in 2017 and Telling the Truth: A Symposium on the Craft of Nonfiction took place in 1991.

Telling the Truth 2020 is presented in partnership with the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy at the University at Albany and WAMC Northeast Public Radio.


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