Listening to Rural and Urban Voices

Part of our webcast series, "SNF Agora Conversations: The Politics and Policy of COVID-19"

Webcast recording

Opinions about the coronavirus crisis have quickly polarized along partisan and rural/urban lines. But how are Americans experiencing and understanding the crisis? The fact that small towns are not experiencing the same high rates of illness as more-populous regions is one example of the way the reality of the pandemic is varying by place. Confronting the coronavirus requires complex policies and the recognition of these variations. As part of our “SNF Agora Conversations: The Politics and Policy of COVID-19,” join us for a discussion about innovative ways of listening to the public and what these approaches have taught us about the way the rural/urban divide is playing out during the pandemic. 


  • Katherine Cramer is the Natalie C. Holton Chair of Letters & Science and a professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a Visiting Professor with the Laboratory for Social Machines at the MIT Media Lab. Her work focuses on the way people in the United States make sense of politics and their place in it. She is author ofThe Politics of Resentment: Rural Consciousness in Wisconsin and the Rise of Scott Walker, (2016) Talking about Race: Community Dialogues and the Politics of Difference(2007), andTalking about Politics: Informal Groups and Social Identity in American Life(2004).  
  • Deb Roy is professor of media arts and sciences at MIT, where he directs the Laboratory for Social Machines and is executive director of the MIT Media Lab. He leads research in applied machine learning and human-machine interaction with applications in designing systems for learning and constructive dialog, and for mapping and analyzing large scale media ecosystems. He is co-founder and chairman of the nonprofit social venture Corticoand was co-founder and CEO of the media analytics company Bluefin Labs. From 2013 to 2017, he served as Twitter’s chief media scientist.  

This conversation will be moderated by Hahrie Han, professor of political science and director of the SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University. 


About SNF Agora Conversations: The Politics and Policy of COVID-19

As coronavirus spreads across the country and around the globe, we are facing a crisis not just in healthcare, but also in how we live, work, learn, engage, and come together to govern ourselves as citizens and in communities.

How do the politics of the pandemic shape the way individual, communities, and institutions respond? Likewise, how does institutional and governmental response to the pandemic shape people’s political views and behaviors? Do people trust what their governments are telling them? Why are some countries controlling the spread of the virus better than others? In the U.S., how will this affect the 2020 elections? And how do we practice social distancing and also protect and promote civic engagement and inclusive discourse?

SNF Agora Institute will host a series of webcast conversations, with experts from Johns Hopkins University and beyond, that will explore the political and policy implications of COVID-19.