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Riley Institute and OLLI present series on the rise of nationalism

OLLI and the Riley Institute at Furman present StraightTalk Series "Nationalist Fervor on the Rise in the U.S. and Europe." Photo: Picture Capital/Alamy Live News

The Riley Institute® and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Furman University will open their annual StraightTalk Series Thursday, Aug. 29, at Furman University. The three-part series will focus on the current rise of nationalism in the U.S. and Europe.

Register online at or call OLLI at 864-294-2998.

Bart Bonikowski, Ph.D., a Harvard cultural and political sociologist who focuses on the political implications of nationalist beliefs, will be the featured speaker at the first session on Aug. 29. He will talk about the rise of nationalism, what it means, and why it is happening now.

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Chris Ballard, former deputy director of operations at the National Security Agency and former commanding general of U.S. Army Intelligence and Security, will join Bonikowski to discuss what these trends might mean for democracy in the U.S. and Europe.

On Thursday, Sept. 5, the series will continue with a second session that will focus on how demographic change is shifting our politics and how we think about the future of white majorities.

For the third and final session Thursday, Sept. 12, the godson of David Duke and former rising star in the white nationalist movement Derek Black will tell why he left the movement and is now an outspoken critic of white nationalism.

“The rise of populist nationalism in the U.S. and Europe is profoundly significant to all of us today. We’ll examine this trend, what’s driving it, and what it means for our future politics and democracy,” said Jill Fuson, director of the Center for Critical Issues at the Riley Institute.

A detailed schedule of events for the series along with speaker bios is available at Or for more information, contact OLLI at 864-294-2998.

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