Image - U.S. Capitol building, COVID
Past Event

24th Annual Travers Conference on Ethics and Accountability in Government

The 2022 Travers Conference will bring together experts from around the country to assess a series of questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will include three panels: “Evaluating the Government Response: Lessons for the Next Pandemic”; “Ethics, Politics and the COVID-19 Response”; and “The Pandemic and Partisan Politics.” 

Panel Information

11 a.m.–12:15 p.m.: Evaluating the Government Response: Lessons for the Next Pandemic
This panel will examine the performance of governments in the United States in responding to the pandemic and consider what lessons we can gain for the future. Some orienting questions are: How well have state, federal and local governmental agencies responded to the pandemic? What role have federal agencies (e.g. FDA, CDC) played in the problems plaguing the pandemic response (such as lack of available testing, inconsistent guidance on masking, confusing booster shot recommendations)? What are lessons from the U.S. experience and from failures and successes of other governments?

Dan Carpenter, Allie S. Freed Professor of Government, Harvard University
Ann Keller, Associate Professor of Health Politics and Policy, UC Berkeley
Phyllis Tien, Professor of Medicine, UCSF
Sean Gailmard, Panel Moderator, UC Berkeley

Time 12:15–1:30 p.m.

1:30–2:45 p.m.: Ethics, Politics and the Covid Response 
This panel will examine a number of ethical questions raised by the COVID pandemic. One set of these questions focuses on tradeoffs regarding individual and collective responsibility (e.g. vaccine mandates, masks, drug prioritization, stay-at-home/shutdown orders, and protection of particularly vulnerable people). Another set of questions concerns how best to meet our responsibilities to children amid a pandemic that has disrupted the education system. A final set of questions centers on a variety of demographic and economic disparities in our societal and governmental response to the pandemic.

Lanhee Chen, Steffy Fellow in American Public Policy Studies, Hoover Institution of Stanford University
Julia Lynch, Professor of Political Science, University of Pennsylvania
Jamila Michener, Associate Professor of Government and co-Director of Cornell Center for Health Equity, Cornell University
Amy Lerman, Panel Moderator, UC Berkeley

3–4:15 p.m.: The Pandemic and Partisan Politics
This panel will consider how public opinion and partisanship have influenced the response to the COVID pandemic in the United States. We usually expect major crises to bring the country together. That has not happened in this case. Why has the pandemic become seen through such a strong partisan lens? What have been the costs of this? What has been the role of misinformation in this process and the more general response to the pandemic?

Shana Kushner Gadarian, Merle Goldbert Fabian Professor of Political Science, Syracuse University
Liz Hamel, Vice President and Director of Public Opinion and Survey Research, Kaiser Family Foundation
Brendan Nyhan, James O. Freedman Presidential Professor, Dartmouth College
Gabe Lenz, Panel Moderator, UC Berkeley


Presented by the Charles & Louise Travers Department of Political Science, University of California, Berkeley in cooperation with the Institute of Governmental Studies and The Commonwealth Club of California.

April 22, 2022

The Commonwealth Club of California
United States


See speakers in program description and schedule.