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UWF Downtown Lecture looks at security and transparency in digital age

By Shelby Smithey…

Jocelyn Evans, chair of the University of West Florida Department of Government, will discuss how technological advances and terrorist attacks have affected political culture in her lecture on Nov. 8 at the Artel Gallery.

Evans will be the second guest speaker as part of the ongoing “UWF Downtown: A Lecture Series Honoring the Arts and Humanities.” In her lecture, “Virtually Representative?: Security, Transparency and Social Identity in the Digital Age,” she will discuss her experiences as a Hill staffer and focus on themes of cultural change, representative politics, political dialogue and civic space.

“The lecture will trace my unique intellectual story, from Hill staffer to political scientist,” Evans said. “It will center on the seminal moments shaping my scholarship and moments involving national crisis and nearly immediate cultural change.”
Evans began working for UWF in 2003 and is now an associate professor of political science. She was awarded the UWF Distinguished Teaching Award in 2011.

“I’ve had the amazing opportunity to interview over 150 congressional elite, including members of Congress, staff, historians and police,” Evans said. “The real-life experiences of these public servants have informed my research, but more importantly my teaching in the classroom. When students really examine the daily work, the tireless efforts of those in representative government, they have a new appreciation for legislative service regardless of their partisan predispositions.”

Evans said that in her lecture she will examine the shifts that have occurred over the last decade in congressional politics, particularly in terms of communication and accessibility.

“Along this journey, I have made several twists and turns, arriving at an unexpected and wonderfully interdisciplinary place focused on the social meaning of our civic spaces,” she said. “I intend to conclude the lecture with some of the rich discoveries I’ve recently made concerning such iconic spaces as the U.S. Capitol and the U.S. Supreme Court.”
Evans will also explain the meaning of civic space in her lecture. “By civic space I mean both the physical and virtual environments in which we engage in political dialogue and practice democratic politics,” she said. “This includes the buildings and arenas for decision making, protest, and conciliation. It also includes the social networks and online communication between representatives and the represented.”

Evans will also describe how terrorism has affected the political psyche. “From my conversations with national political elite, it is clear that the terrorist attacks of 2001 resulted in a national loss of innocence of sorts,” she said. “Capitol Hill would lose some of its openness. Mail would forever after be screened before delivery to governmental offices. These observations are Hill specific, but the changes made to Hill culture have carried huge implications for representative politics throughout every congressional district across the country.”

Evans said that she hopes people leave the lecture with an enhanced view of the cultural milieu on which contemporary congressional politics resides.

“I hope that people who come to the lecture see the value in asking interesting questions simply because they are interesting,” she said. “I also hope they look for answers where answers may be found, even if those places are outside of our comfort zones and support the pursuit of truth and meaning because that journey is the one that matters and holds the most potential for bringing about social change and building a brighter future for our children.”

“UWF Downtown” will take place on Thursday, Nov. 8 at 6 p.m. at the Artel Gallery, 223 Palafox Place. Refreshments will be served at 6 p.m., followed by Evans’ lecture, “Virtually Representative?: Security, Transparency, and Social Identity in the Digital Age” at 7 p.m.