Summer Reads and Podcasts from the School of Government

A decorative colleage of book covers and podcast logos mentioned in the story

While summer is a quiet time on most university campuses, work and training for public officials doesn’t cease during the warmer months at the UNC School of Government. Many School faculty are using summer vacations and staycations to read new books, delve into recent publications, and plug into podcasts.

We recently caught up with six School faculty members to find out what they’re reading, listening to, and learning about this summer.

Crista Cuccaro
Teaching Assistant Professor of Public Law and Government

“I just picked up Constructing Community: Urban Governance, Development, and Inequality in Boston, written by sociologist Jeremy Levine. As a fellow sociologist and local government enthusiast, I am excited to dig into his analysis of how we create the concept of ‘community’ and whose voice is included—and not included—when we endorse and govern based upon the idea of a singular community.

“On a more personal note, I am currently reading Essential Labor: Mothering as Social Change by Angela Garbes and plan to next jump into Linea Nigra: An Essay on Pregnancy and Earthquakes by Mexican author Jazmina Barrera. My spouse and I are expecting our first baby in September, and both books offer poetic, intersectional perspectives on motherhood, which is a welcome reprieve from the technical books on how to sleep train a baby!”

Chris McLaughlin
Professor of Public Law and Government

“I have been listening to ‘Plain English’ by Derek Thompson on the Ringer Podcast Network. Thompson provides a nuanced, balanced look at controversial issues like gun violence, inflation, and pandemic-response policies.  In addition to being just plain enlightening, this podcast also routinely provides good examples of how to discuss hot-button topics without drama.  A recent episode that I think is particularly interesting for the School (and every other organization struggling with the future of work) is ‘The Big Winners and Losers from the Remote Work Revolution.’”

Jill Moore
Associate Professor of Public Law and Government

“I’m listening to two primary podcasts right now. ‘Public Health on Call’ from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is my daily listening for the latest public health news on everything from covid to health disparities to the challenges facing the public health workforce. I’m also listening to season of Slate’s ‘Slow Burn,’ which explores the legal and cultural path to Roe v. Wade.

“My personal reading this summer is Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath, by Heather Clark. It caught my attention because it seeks to, in the author’s words, “free Plath from the cultural baggage of the past 50 years [what we all think we know about her] and reposition her as one of the most important writers of the 20th century.”

Tyler Mulligan
Robert W. Bradshaw Jr. Distinguished Term Professor of Public Law and Government
Director, Development Finance Initiative

“I have two readings picked out that will inform my work in community economic development and the transformational projects of the School’s Development Finance Initiative (DFI). The first is The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap by Mehrsa Baradaran. I’ve read parts of the book through a DFI book club already. I am interested in learning more about the historical role of financial institutions in creating and preserving wealth, especially in underserved communities. Still today, the nation enacts laws, such as the ‘Community Reinvestment Act,’ that employ banks and banking systems to address poverty and distressed communities. I want to know more about the history of these efforts and the prospects for their success.

“My other reading assignment is the State of the Nation’s Housing 2022 Report, which was just released by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies in June. The housing market is undergoing massive changes right now, ranging from skyrocketing rents and sale prices to the flood of investment dollars pouring into rental housing from large institutional investors. These broader trends are affecting North Carolina communities, so we at the School need to learn as much as we can about them in order to explain and address their impacts locally.”

Emily Turner
Assistant Professor of Public Law and Government

“I think it’s fair to say that I spend an above-average amount of time thinking about the rule of law and the principles underlying our project of self-governance—partially because of how important those questions are for our justice system, and partially because of how important they are for me as an American. That’s why this summer I’m excited to be reading The Nation That Never Was: Reconstructing America’s Story by Kermit Roosevelt III. Roosevelt takes on these crucial questions in an innovative examination of our nation’s story, undergirded by thoughtful and measured analysis of our national identity and values. The result is, appropriately, as complicated and inspiring as America herself.”

Jeff Welty
Professor of Public Law and Government

“I recently finished Sentence by Daniel Genis. The book chronicles the 10 years the author spent in prison for armed robbery. Prison is a major component of our criminal justice system, and it is worth trying to understand what the experience is like for those who are incarcerated.”

(Read Welty’s review of the book on the NC Criminal Law Blog.)

“I also listened to ‘Broken Doors,’ a Washington Post podcast series about no-knock search warrants. A lot of attention has been paid to no-knock warrants as a result of Breonna Taylor’s death, and the series questions the utility of such warrants and the rigor of the process by which they are issued. I will add, though, that I think such warrants are very rare in North Carolina. The podcast portrays them as common, which they may be in other jurisdictions.”