On April 25, Mercy College hosted an event entitled “American Politics: The View from Overseas” at MercyManhattan. Organized by the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the Center for Global Engagement — in collaboration with the School of Business — the event brought together panelists from across the world who shared perspectives on how people outside the U.S. view American politics. The event drew more than 100 attendees and encouraged a lively discussion.
The panelists were Viviana Mazza, an Italian journalist based in New York City for Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera; Ryan Heath, editorial director at POLITICO, who is originally from Australia; and Abdel-Kader Ben-Mohamed, Ph.D., chair of the undergraduate business program in the Mercy College School of Business, who is originally from North Africa and worked in the Middle East. Eduardo Albrecht, Ph.D., director of the International Relations and Diplomacy Program, and Michiko Kuroda, visiting fellow for the Center for Global Engagement, contributed reflections as well.
Mazza shared that Europeans view geopolitical topics as being central to politics, while these are seen as less central in the U.S. For example, she said that Europeans were surprised that President Biden mentioned Ukraine only in passing in his latest State of the Union address.
Heath explained that Australians see the U.S. as a place where there is a lot of debate in politics, which he finds to be refreshing and healthy for a democracy.
Ben-Mohamed made the point that people in North Africa and the Middle East hold the U.S. in great esteem as a land of freedom and opportunity but also feel let down by American foreign policy decisions over the past 20 years such as the war in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“It's really eye-opening for students and faculty members to see how people in other parts of the world view our politics, our cultural wars and even our presidential speeches,” said Stuart Sidle, Ph.D., dean of the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, who moderated the event. “They see things we don't see because they have different viewpoints and concerns. This type of perspective-taking helps us have more empathy and awareness of how our behavior affects others, which is an important skill to foster for preparing students to work in multicultural workplaces."