Pizza, Policy & Putin


Submitted to the Simpsonian

This year’s Pizza and Policy will take place on Tuesday, March 7 in Black Box from 5:30-7:30.

by Cash Lee, Staff Reporter

The Culver Public Policy Center holds a ‘Pizza and Policy’ event at least once a year and has done so for over a decade. The upcoming one will take place on Tuesday, March 7. This discussion will be a follow-up to last year’s topic of the Russia-Ukraine war. 

It has now been a little over a year since Russia invaded its neighboring country, and the Pizza and Policy event aims to provide information on how we got to this point. Jeffrey J. Weiss, a professor of political science and sociology will be a guest speaker. 

Seth Andersen is the Executive Director of the Culver Center and works with students on all aspects of the event, including coming up with topics, finding speakers, planning the event, marketing it, and arguably the most important part, getting the pizza. He discussed what the goal of ‘Pizza and Policy’ events is and what students should expect. 

“The Pizza and Policy event has always been a student-focused program. It’s structured as an opportunity for students to hear from experts on topics that are hot in the news,” he said. “We like to have all sides of an issue explored. Some programs might invite politicians to debate two sides, but this series is designed to give students a really in-depth objective set of information about something.”   

Students should expect to gain knowledge about an event that impacts our lives more than we may know. An interesting fact about Ukraine is that it is similar to Iowa and the Midwest overall. Both places have some of the most productive soil that allows them to be breadbaskets of their respective regions. That means you might have more in common with the people that are halfway across the world than you think. 

Andersen also mentioned what guest speaker Jeffrey Weiss would be most focused on talking about. 

“His focus is very much going to be on this thirty-year runup to the Russian invasion. What happened after the Berlin Wall came down in ‘89 and the fall out of the Soviet Union in ‘91, and what happened between the fall of the Soviet Union and last February that got us to the point where Russia felt emboldened enough to invade Ukraine,” Andersen said. 

Other Simpson faculty members have been involved in the Pizza and Policy events to give students information on topics from the perspective of their expertise. Brian Steffen, who has served as the head of the multimedia communication department since 2002, was one of the faculty members involved last year. 

Professor Steffen’s role last year was to talk about misinformation and disinformation campaigns and Russia’s history of manipulating the media and public opinion. 

“Your picture of the war depends on where you live. What Russians learn about the war is completely different than what Americans and Ukrainians learn,” Steffen said. 

So, why should students attend the event? 

“A, to get truthful information, but B, to realize all representations of our world are a social construction that usually reflects power,” Steffen said. 

Last year’s Pizza and Policy event on the Russia-Ukraine war brought such a large crowd that all the seats were taken, so now events will be held in Black Box from 5:30-7:30. Make sure to show up a little early to grab a seat and a slice of pizza.