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Elon University asks: Is America facing a slow decline toward its darkest days? Or is there a bright dawn ahead as our nation returns to its founding values and principles?

Five distinguished panelists confronted these daunting questions during Elon University's Convocation for Honors on April 7, 2011. Moderated by NBC Nightly News anchor and Elon parent Brian Williams, the discussion inspired students to consider their roles in overcoming major issues facing America: rising national debt, political gridlock, complex energy and environmental problems, religious intolerance and an ailing educational system. Join the conversation! Please visit the links below and leave your comments and ideas on each topic, using the form at the bottom of each page.

David Gergen

Brian Williams
Moderator

Anchor and managing editor, NBCNightly News


Is the rapidly evolving use of technology and social media causing a cultural shift in society?

David Gergen

David Gergen

CNN senior political analyst; former presidential adviser; director, Harvard University Center for Public Leadership


How can we move beyond partisan gridlock and find the will to solve our nation's most pressing problems?

David Walker

David Walker

President/CEO Comeback America Initiative; former U.S. Comptroller General


How can we promote fiscal responsibility by government and not mortgage our children's and grandchildren's future?

Shirley Ann Jackson

Shirley Ann Jackson

President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; former chair, Nuclear Regulatory Commission


What investments in science and technology must we make to show economic leadership, environmental stewardship and greater energy independence?