Discussion of Women and Minorities in the Contemporary South
Political scientists and polling directors in 12 Southern states debated the political, social, educational and economic status of women and minorities in the contemporary South as part of the New South Consortium Inaugural Conference.
Topics explored included what the Katrina relief effort says about race, poverty, and contemporary Southern politics; an evaluation of the last 50 years of desegregation; which Southern states have the best living standards and why; and what the future holds for women and minorities in the South.
The group’s members discussed how they can work together in the future to conduct research and polls on questions important to the South.
“We looked at questions of public health, such as obesity being a serious Southern problem, at environmental concerns which are becoming a Southern problem because so many industries are locating here but Southern states don’t often have the infrastructure or legal protections to prevent substantial environmental damage,” said event co-sponsor Todd Shields, director of the Blair Center in Fulbright College.
The Blair Center and the department of education reform founded the consortium, which is composed of 12 Southern universities that annually conduct public opinion surveys. The consortium provides the researchers an opportunity to collaborate on their findings and share them with the public.
Conference panelists included Kirby Goidel, Louisiana State University; Debra McCallum, University of Alabama; Mary Stutzman, Florida State University; James Bason, University of Georgia; Ron Langley, University of Kentucky; Steve Shaffer, Mississippi State University; Robert Stevenson, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; Bob Oldendick, University of South Carolina; Michael Gant, University of Tennessee; Brian Cannon, Texas Tech University; and David Urban, Virginia Commonwealth University.
“Neither scholars nor policy leaders have sufficient information about the attitudes of Southerners to be confident about how certain policy decisions will impact the region,” said Shannon Davis, event co-sponsor and director of research in the College of Education and Health Professions. “This is particularly true with regard to how we work to provide Southerners with quality public education, affordable housing and health care.”
The coordinators plan to publish a book based on the efforts of this conference.