Photo of 4 PanelistsThis event took place on Thursday, February 2, 2023.  Watch Recording Here

About the Lecture

Political polarization and extremism is a major challenge in today's America. Join us for a panel of community leaders who are working to address these challenges in Colorado. The panel will explore topics such as: How polarization and extremism manifest in communities around Colorado, what the panelists' groups are doing to address these issues, and what opportunities exist for students and faculty to get involved in these efforts and understand CO communities better.

About the Panelists

  • Laureen Boll (Foundation Against Intolerance and Racism), "The racial reckoning of the Summer of 2020 had a profound impact on me. It seemed that my values of casting aside stereotypes and treating people the same regardless of their skin color were suddenly outdated.Both my workplace and my kids’ schools were embracing a movement of prioritizing group identity, and it felt like my moral code was being impinged upon. It quickly became clear that I could not sit on the sidelines and watch my community succumb to an illiberal and divisive ideology. In 2021 I retired from a 23-year career as an employee benefits strategist and began a new role as a volunteer ‘advocate of liberal democracy’. I now lead the Douglas County chapter of FAIR, a community-focused grassroots movement that promotes individual dignity and excellence in our K-12 education system. We are standing against the encroachment of an intolerant and racist ideology in our schools, and encouraging parents, teachers and kids to reject learned helplessness and grievance in favor of resilience and gratitude. I’m also the state coordinator for FAIR, where I aim to share FAIR’s pro-human approach with leaders in business, healthcare, and the arts.”
  • Bernie Buescher (Restore the Balance), is “Of Counsel” with the law firm of Ireland Stapleton Pryor and Pascoe, P.C.  A lifetime resident of Grand Junction, Bernie practiced law in Grand Junction with Williams Turner and Holmes for 14 years, and served as President and CEO of West Star Aviation from 1986 through 1995.  He served two terms in the Colorado General Assembly and for two years served as Secretary of State for Colorado. For four years Bernie was a Deputy Attorney General, managing the State Services Section of the office.  He has served on approximately 40 non-profit boards. In 2022 he was one of the founding members of Restore the Balance which fights extremism in politics.
  • Martín Carcasson (Director of Colorado State University's Center for Public Deliberation), is a professor in the Communication Studies department of Colorado State University, and the founder and director of the CSU Center for Public Deliberation. His research focuses on helping local communities address “wicked problems” more productively through improved public communication, community problem solving, and collaborative decision-making. The CPD is an impartial resource dedicated to enhancing local democracy. Martin and the CPD staff train students to serve as impartial facilitators, who then work with local governments, school boards, and community organizations to design, facilitate, and report on innovative projects and events on key community issues.
  • Leah Sprain (Director of CU’s Center for Communication and Democratic Engagement), is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Colorado Boulder where she also directs the Center for Communication and Democratic Engagement. Her research focuses on  how specific communication practices facilitate and inhibit public action. Outreach and praxis are crucial to democratic engagement; thus, much of her research is collaborative and focused on the practice-theory interface. 
  • Moderated by Matthew Burgess (Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental Studies and Benson Center Faculty Fellow).

Photo of four panelists: Top Left: Bernie Buescher, Top Right: Laureen Boll, Bottom Left: Martín Carcasson, Bottom Right: Leah Sprain 

Parking information

Nearby lots include 404, 406, 306, or 319. Visit the CU campus map for parking options or find more info about short term parking at CU. Contact Parking Services at 303-735-PARK (7275) with questions.

Public Safety

Please note that masks are optional at CU Boulder.