Event Information


March 6, 2024


7:00-8:00 p.m. CT


Tom and Ruth Harkin Center (2800 University Ave., Des Moines, IA 50311)

YouTube Live Stream on The Harkin Institute’s YouTube Channel


This event is free and open to the public but registration via Eventbrite is required.


American Sign Language (ASL) and Live Captioning (CART) will be provided for both in person and virtual attendees. Additional accomodation requests can be made by emailing harkininstitute@drake.edu.


Event Summary:

The Harkin Institute is excited to announce this Spring’s Sussman Lecture, “Pain and Politics in the Heart of America” with Dr. Jennifer Silva. Dr. Silva will discuss the economic, social, and cultural challenges currently facing America’s working class and how those challenges have impacted the ability of the working class to achieve the American Dream. Dr. Silva has written two books surrounding these topics, Coming Up Short: Working-Class Adulthood in an Age of Uncertainty and We’re Still Here: Pain and Politics in the Heart of America. In Coming Up Short, Dr. Silva conducted one hundred interviews with working class residents in two towns-Lowell, Massachusetts, and Richmond, Virginia, and shed light on their experience of heightened economic insecurity, deepening inequality, and uncertainty about marriage and family. In We’re Still Here, Dr. Silva conducted more than a hundred interviews of Black, white, and Latino working-class residents of a declining coal town in Pennsylvania to examine the civic and political disengagement of working-class people.

About Dr. Jennifer Silva

Jennifer Silva is an Associate Professor at the O’Neill School at Indiana University. She earned her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Virginia and studied sociology at the undergraduate level at Wellesley College. Silva has authored two books exploring American working-class culture, including We’re Still Here: Pain and Politics in the Heart of America (Oxford University Press, 2019) and Coming Up Short: Working-Class Adulthood in an Age of Uncertainty (Oxford University Press, 2013). Silva has also collaborated with research institutions including Brookings and the American Enterprise Institute, bringing expertise in qualitative methods to policymakers. Her research has been covered by The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Boston Globe, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Atlantic, Boston Review, and NPR’s On Point. She’s been interviewed on Marketplace, WAMC’s The Roundtable, WITF’s Smart Talk, and two programs on SiriusXM—Tell Me Everything with John Fugelsang and P.O.T.U.S.

About the Sussman Lecture Series: The Sussman Lecture Series hosts a notable public policy figure to discuss topical current events with a small audience. The series was established by the late Richard Sussman (AS’51), in memory of his late wife Lila. Tickets are required and seating is limited to provide an intimate experience for attendees.

Address: 2800 University Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50311

Phone: (515) 271-3623

Email: harkininstitute@drake.edu

Office Hours: Monday to Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.