Second Opinion: What does it mean to be an American today?

Smithsonian Second Opinion brings together thought leaders to explore some of the critical issues facing our nation and the world. The site features a big idea or topic that is explored through a variety of different features. The topics are drawn from the Smithsonian’s many areas of expertise and—because of the breadth and depth of our resources—are explored from a variety of different angles and points of view.

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The newest edition of Second Opinion explores the question: “What Does It Mean To Be An American today?”

The main feature of this edition is a panel discussion hosted by Secretary David Skorton. Joining him were Ali Noorani, the Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum; Ana Quintana, Policy Analyst for Latin America and the Western Hemisphere at The Heritage Foundation; Jeremy Robbins, the Executive Director of New American Economy; and Beth Werlin, the Executive Director of the American Immigration Council. Among the questions the group discussed were:  What role do immigrants play in 21st century America? How do immigrants contribute to our nation?

Secretary Skorton also sat down with Dr. Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank, to discuss migration and its global impact, and with Laurene Powell Jobs, Founder and President of the Emerson Collective, to hear her thoughts on immigration, education, and the power of the arts.

Second Opinion offers the Smithsonian perspective with several video interviews and articles:

  • Eduardo Díaz, Director of the Smithsonian Latino Center, explains why it’s so crucial to let immigrants tell their own stories
  • Lisa Sasaki, Director of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center; explains what brings immigrants to America
  • Margaret Salazar-Porzio, Curator in the Division of Home and Community Life at the National Museum of American History; has compiled a reading list of six books to read about the history of immigration in America
  • E. Carmen Ramos, Deputy Chief Curator at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, presents a selection of artworks from five artists who will help you better understand American immigration.

The site also includes educational materials from several Smithsonian units and guides for hosting your own discussion using some of the resources offered in the “Vox Populi” section.

We hope you enjoy the latest installment of Smithsonian Second Opinion. The site will feature new topics four times per year. Up next: Does Art Matter?


Posted: 26 October 2017
About the Author:

According to Haberacker family lore, Becky announced to her parents after her first trip to the Smithsonian (around age 11 or so) that she wanted to work at the Institution someday. She has been a public affairs specialist at SI since 2002.