How did our politics become so polarized?

Dr. Shannon Jenkins, longtime political scientist at UMass Dartmouth and a member of the Dartmouth School Committee, joined New Bedford Light columnist Jack Spillane to talk about the deep cultural rifts that shape today’s politics — from local communities to our divided nation.

Jenkins is not just a political science professor; she is an active member of her community, currently serving on the Dartmouth School Committee. Her public service provided first-hand experience in the cultural clashes that some believe are causing the greatest division in American politics since the leadup to the Civil War.

As chair of the School Committee, Jenkins was at the center of a roiling controversy over Dartmouth’s use of the name “Indians” (along with an associated logo) for school athletic teams and clubs.

Now that the committee has made its decision on the issue, Jenkins agreed to be The Chat’s guest for a conversation about the negative partisanship that has come to dominate America’s political scene. She addressed the influence of hyper-partisanship on democracy, as well as its effect on civil discourse.

Jenkins is the associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at UMD. She served as the chair of the political science department from 2012-2018 and is the author/co-author of three books. She has received two Fulbright awards, one in China in 2012 and one in Japan in 2019.