Understanding America

A Year-Long Series Exploring Yale, New Haven, and the U.S.

After settling in to life at Yale, international students, scholars, and family members may be curious about their new hometown of New Haven as well as the broader culture of living in America. You are not alone - with all that is happening in the U.S. at present, many of us are re-evaluating our understanding of the people, the culture, and government of the U.S. Join us in this year-long series of talks as we attempt to crack some of the codes and break down key issues at Yale, New Haven, and the U.S. at large.

The Understanding America series includes panel discussions and expert speakers both from Yale and the New Haven community. Our goal is to provide a comfortable space for you to engage in a lively discussion, offer opinions, and gain insights into some complex features of U.S. society and culture.

The series is open to the Yale Community, and we encourage you to come with questions, opinions, and an open mind.


 This Year's Discussion Topics

Tuesday, Sept. 24, 5:30pm

New Haven - A Post-Industrial City

Join us for our first session of our Understanding America series, led by Peter Crumlish, the Executive Director and General Secretary of Dwight Hall Yale's student-led center for public service and social justice. In this session we will explore New Haven's recent history as it transitioned from an industrial hub to a post-industrial city, and how this has impacted the socioeconomic make-up of the urban area from the mid-20th century onward. We will examine housing and zoning issues, gentrification, the urban renewal process, and of course, we will have time for your questions at the end.

Thursday, Oct. 10, 5:30pm

Women in Politics

We are thrilled to announce a special conversation with Patricia Russo, the Executive Director of the Women's Campaign School at Yale.  Patti's presentation will detail the history of the Women's Campaign School, giving an inside & personal lens to the legacy of female politicians. What does it take to create a “year of the women”? How did we foster a political environment that now sees five women running for president? What can we accomplish when we come together across the aisle? She will address these questions and more in order to help you understand the America we come from, as well as the America we can create. 

Tuesday, Oct. 22, 5:30pm

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in the Workplace

Join us for a discussion with Deborah Stanley-McAulay, Yale's Chief Diversity Officer and Senior Director of Yale's Office of Diversity & Inclusion. We will define terms, examine Yale's strategy for DEI initiatives & discuss how you fit into these conversations. Please join us for an insightful discussion. 

Thursday, Jan. 30, 5:30pm

Pizza, A Love Story - Film Screening & Panel Discussion

Join us for a very special edition of our Understanding America series featuring a screening of the new documentary, Pizza, A Love Story, followed by a panel discussion with the film's producers. We are partnering with McDougal GSL and will provide a slice of New Haven pizza to complete the experience. 

Thursday, Feb. 27, 5:00pm

Acknowledging Tribal Nation Land & What That Means for Yale

We are very excited for our next conversation in our Understanding America series which will be led by Dr. Matthew Makomenaw, the Director of Yale's Native-American Cultural Center (NACC) & Assistant Dean of Yale College, and current Yale College student, Meghan Gupta, who is the founder and editor-in-chief of Indigenizing the News. In this conversation, we will discuss key historical moments that have led to tribal nation sovereignty, identity, and place in contemporary America. Please REGISTER to attend.