March 19, 2014

President Hemesath, Dr. Hayes Discuss Ukraine at Politics & A Pint

SJU President Dr. Michael Hemesath with CSBSJU Professor Christi Siver
and student Bridget Cummings after "Politics & A Pint: Ukraine on the Brink " on Thursday.
Collegeville, MN – Last Thursday, Saint John’s University President Dr. Michael Hemesath and Dr. Nick Hayes joined CSBSJU students and community members in Brother Willie’s Pub to lead a discussion about the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

At the Eugene J. McCarthy Center for Public Policy and Civic Engagement’s “Politics & A Pint: Ukraine On The Brink,” President Hemesath and Dr. Hayes shared their insights on Ukrainian history and the current crisis.  

CSBSJU students Melissa DeOrio and McKensie Diver had the privilege to moderate the interview with our distinguished guests. “I thought it was a lot of fun.” DeOrio said. “It was awesome to see two really bright individuals share their insights and talents of the region with all of us.”

Remarkable turnout
According to last week’s attendance tally, the Politics & A Pint attracted 130 engaged citizens. This high attendance has now become a pattern.

Since the conversation series’ birth in the spring of 2008, its student and community participation has grown exponentially. McCarthy Center Director and CSBSJU Professor Matt Lindstrom attributes this success to the Center’s impressive presence on campus.

“Since we have started Politics & A Pint, the branding of the event has increased dramatically,” explained Lindstrom. “Students know that it’s by students and for students.”

In the future, the McCarthy Center hopes to attract even more students to its events. SJU President Hemesath shares this desire and encourages everyone to participate in a Politics & A Pint at their time here at CSBSJU.

“It’s important to have these discussions in class, but I think it is also great that our future engaged citizens get a chance to talk about these things in an extra-curricular setting,” Hemesath said. “That’s what Politics & A Pint is all about.”

Practical utility
And this unique environment comes with powerful benefits. Not only do students learn the value of continually being informed on the issues of today, but students also acquire invaluable skills like constructing arguments, articulating probing questions, and expanding one’s outlook.

Despite coming from different academic perspectives, President Hemesath enjoyed participating in civil-discourse and discussion with Dr. Hayes.

“It was fun to go back and forth with Dr. Hayes a little bit to see how a historian and an economist might view the world a little differently,” President Hemesath said after the event. “It was great to show students that we can disagree with each other and come to completely different conclusions by looking at the same set of facts.”

The importance of being internationally aware
Dr. Hayes echoed the President’s appreciation for the opportunity to speak in front of so many students and community members. Hayes’ also hoped his appearance showed students the importance of thinking globally.

“If you are not intellectually aware, if you don’t have a consciousness that is global and international, you will fall hopelessly behind,” says Dr. Hayes. That’s why he encourages students to be global citizens: to get ahead.

“When you get engaged internationally, it’s not just that you master a topic, it’s that you develop into a different person. You will have greater self-confidence. You will have greater knowledge of us and our encounters in the international world. Ultimately, it teaches you a lot about America.”

Learning these skills in the low-stake, informal environment in Brother Willie’s Pub is helping mold countless CSBSJU students into the kind of future leaders our current world so desperately needs.

“Given that we want to train engaged citizens for the 21st century, I think everyone here should take a chance and stop by a Politics & A Pint,” said President Hemesath.

To view the full "Politics & A Pint: Ukraine on the Brink" event on YouTube, click here.

President Hemesath graduated summa cum laude with a degree in economics from Saint John’s University in 1981 and received his master's and doctoral degrees in economics from Harvard University.

Dr. Hayes holds his MA and Ph.D in History from the University of Chicago where he specialized in 20th Century Russia and Europe. Currently, Hayes is a CSBSJU Professor of History and University Chair in Critical Thinking.

The Eugene J. McCarthy Center for Public Policy and Civic Engagement, founded in 2006, sponsors the bi-monthly conversation series on issues relating to politics, public policy and community involvement.

The next Politics & A Pint is scheduled for April 3rd at 5:00 PM in O’Connell’s Coffee House at the College of Saint Benedict and will focus on about the challenges facing women entering politics and the ways in which this generation can close the gender gap in public office.