Campus and Careers

February 7, 2011
The scenes playing out in Egypt and across the Arab world are not just dramatic, they are remaking the region and U.S. policy for years to come. Regimes have been pushed out leaving an unsettled landscape in one of the world's geopolitical hot spots. And yet, when we look around a selection of our communities in Patchwork Nation, we see a lot of indifference. Most local websites barely mention the news from Middle East, even in communities where one might expect a more intense focus. But there are sharp differences in how the story is being played and received. On the whole, the wealthier, more-diverse, more-educated communities we follow seem more tuned in to the news from Egypt than others. Their local media is paying attention and people seem to be talking about the events. But in more far-flung locales, there are a wide range of topics - from snow to local crimes to area bird populations - generating bigger headlines and more conversations than the uprising in the...
February 4, 2011
As protests in Egypt continue into the month of February, many students on the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus are keeping a close watch. U-M’s diverse student population is made up of many international students, a number of whom are Egyptian. For some, families and friends still live in their home countries. As Stephanie Wang reports in a recent article in The Michigan Review, there are a lot of strong feelings on campus. About 80 people from several student organizations recently held a protest in the Diag, the center of the University’s campus. While some students have direct personal connections to Egypt, others seem to feel the need to show their solidarity with its people and their urgency to get rid of President Hosni Mubarak. It is refreshing to see a group of students so impassioned about something that isn’t Barack Obama. U-M was once known as a very politically active campus, but that feeling doesn’t really hold true anymore...
January 11, 2011
Days after the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords this weekend - and the deaths of six others at the same incident - the question of “why” remains. The theories have come fast and furious since this weekend, shedding little light. Some have hinged on drug use. Others have focused on a mentally unbalanced young man.  Still others have looked for ties to the tea party. And it may be weeks before any real motive can be found in the assorted notes, emails and accounts that are creating a composite picture of suspect Jared Lee Loughner. But that is less true of the setting of the shootings, Pima County and the city of Tucson. A mix of big college town with a strong, activist conservative base, Pima is a complicated backdrop. A complex blend of seeming contradictions, Pima is a county where the long-serving Democratic Sheriff can rail against conservatives who talk about “tearing down the government” – as he did this weekend. It is also...
January 4, 2011
Say this about Americans: they are nothing if not hopeful. While 2009 and 2010 may have brought economic trouble and pain, the mood among most Americans appears surprisingly upbeat going into 2011. In each of Patchwork Nation's 12 county types, more than 50 percent said they believe 2011 will be better, rather than worse, than 2010, according to a December Pew Center for the People & the Press poll analyzed through Patchwork Nation. Admittedly, that is a pretty broad question aimed more at getting at larger perceptions about times ahead than specific thoughts about their current lives. But if one were, say, selling futures in American optimism, they would be trading up as the New Year begins. As we often see in Patchwork Nation, however, they would not be trading at the same level everywhere. Three county types are feeling especially bright about the year ahead: the wealthy Monied Burbs, the collegiate Campus and Career counties and the big city Industrial Metropolis...
December 29, 2010
Christmas 2010 is in the past and New Year's is approaching, which means it's time to start thinking about ... 2012. Yes, Iowa and New Hampshire are more than a year away, but for presidential hopefuls the political calculations are already well underway. For many they started the Wednesday after Election Day 2008. Tapping into the American electoral zeitgeist is no easy task however and a Patchwork Nation analysis of the vote in 2008 versus 2010 shows just how much the landscape has changed. Both were big change wave elections, but we do not yet know if 2012 will be as charged a political environment. The Democrats lost ground in all of Patchwork Nation's county types in the 2010 House vote compared to the vote in 2008 -- including the reliably "blue" big city Industrial Metropolis and Campus and Career locales. But most troubling for President Obama and the members of his party would have to be the numbers from the wealthy, largely suburban Monied...
December 21, 2010
This year brought big changes in to the United States. The midterm elections shuffled the balance of power in Washington. Economists announced the recession ended in 2009 - though many communities still struggled. Congress voted to end the military's "don't ask, don't tell policy" and passed another big tax-cut/stimulus bill. But looking at state of the country through Patchwork Nation, 2010 looks more like the prelude to bigger changes ahead in 2011 and beyond. Economically and politically there are strong signs of volatile times ahead. The recession may be over, but there are larger economic forces at play that could lead to long-term changes that will have very different impacts on different communities. And any sense of political stability in Washington is likely to be short-lived as the 12 community types in Patchwork Nation look toward 2012 with very different agendas. Listed below are five news stories to watch for in 2011 as our Patchwork Nation...
November 30, 2010
Of all the factors that go into making a community the local school system may be the most critical. Better schools not only equal better-educated kids, but often better property values and a better quality of life. On Tuesday, a new report from the America's Promise Alliance studying the graduation rates of high schools around the country showed good news: The number of "dropout factories" in the United States was declining. But the Building a Grad Nation report also found there are still some major challenges - some 40 percent of minority students fail to graduate. Viewed through the prism of Patchwork Nation's 12 county types, the message in the Building a Grad Nation report becomes even clearer. It's not just poor minority students that are suffering disproportionately - it is poor, minority communities. The Struggles in "Minority Central" One county type stands out in sharpest relief in Patchwork Nation - the counties with large...
October 6, 2010
The Supreme Court is to American politics what professional hockey is to American sports -- an institution that inspires a cult-like following among the devoted fan-base that absorbs, anguishes, analyzes and assigns significance to everything it does, yet goes largely unnoticed by everyone else, even those who claim to follow politics or sports closely.  Every so often, you'll hear someone -- usually a journalist or some advocate of government openess or accountability -- suggest that the Supreme Court ought to televise oral arguments so that Americans can gain a better understanding of how this most mysterious of government institutions really works. Likewise for hockey.  Currently exiled to the Versus Channel, a cable network that probably draws fewer viewers than local public access channels that televise quilting competitions, hockey largely operates out of the public eye as well.  As one who is a member in good-standing of both these cults, I take no...
September 21, 2010
My name is Gregg Ivers, and I am Professor of Government at American University in Washington, D.C. Beginning this fall, I'll be coordinating contributions to the Academic Blogging portal of Patchwork Nation from professors and students around the nation. My goal, as director of academic blogging and campus outreach, is give a voice to our nation's college students who pay close attention to politics and policy. Dozens of my own students are veterans of campaign politics at the national, state and local levels, and often introduce their own experience from the political world to understand better or challenge what they're learning in class. And, in defense of my own profession, many political scientists really do understand how politics works in the "real world," and I'll be reaching out to colleagues of mine in all four corners on the United States for their insight into how the composition and politics of their local communities will affect House and...
July 11, 2010
It is now over eighty days since BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig began to spew oil out into the Gulf of Mexico and sadly, the problem isn't going away. The story lingers in the minds of people across the nation, eliciting reactions ranging from anger to feelings of hopelessness. In Ann Arbor, University of Michigan students are following the developments of the disaster. Jenna, a Junior in the School of Kineseology, said the spill is "the most terrifying national crisis that has happened in my lifetime. 9-11 comes in second, because it was finite. The towers fell, it was horrible, but then we could decide the course of action to take personally, and as a country, to recover and rebuild. This oil spill is, so far as we can see, unstoppable. The coasts are covered, the animals are suffering, and there is no end in sight." Jenna, who requested that her full name not be used, also mentioned a video that has become viral among her friends, saying that "it...