2020 Presidential Candidate Debates: Issues Explained by Experts

  • Democracy & Governance
  • Criminal Justice
  • Health Care
  • Environment & Energy
  • Immigration
  • Colleges & Universities
  • Children & Families
  • Civic Engagement
  • Public Health
Associate Director of Communications and Producer, No Jargon

With the debates on June 26th and 27th, the 2020 presidential election officially enters a new stage. As you prepare for your coverage of the debates and resulting policy discussions, the following scholars are available and prepared to comment on the following topics:

Border Security and Immigration

University of Kentucky

Expert on the history of the modern immigrants' rights movement.

American University

Expert on the political inclusion of immigrants and minorities, the US-Mexico border, and the link between migration and mental health.

University of Chicago

Expert on international migration, race and ethnicity, and social stratification. 

University of Chicago


Expert on international migration, law and society, race and ethnicity, Latino/a sociology, and political sociology.

University of California, Merced

Expert on the social consequences of immigration policy, with a focus on deportations.

University of Texas at El Paso

Expert on border security, immigration law enforcement, and attendant human rights issues.

Northeastern University

Expert on how contemporary immigration is changing U.S. racial dynamics particularly with regard to racial classification and interracial relations.

California State University San Marcos

Expert on immigration law enforcement in the United States with a particular focus on the nation's northern and southern borders. 

City University of New York

Expert on the interaction between law, legal institutions, and politics. Her substantive areas of expertise are in U.S. immigration and constitutional law, policy, and history. 

University of California, Davis

Expert on citizenship, legal status, and opportunities for mobility.

Washington University in St. Louis

Expert on the integration of immigrants in the United States and the implications of immigrant-native relations for inequality and group politics. 

University of California, San Diego

Expert on political and legal issues regarding immigration, civil rights, jobs and equal opportunity.

University of California, San Diego

Expert on politics of immigration, citizenship, and migrant "illegality." 

Criminal Justice Reform

University of Utah

Expert on the effects of body-worn cameras in policing, particularly the unforeseen impact on vulnerable victim populations as well as on police officers themselves.

University of Washington

Expert on juvenile justice as well as the fines and fees that people who make contact with all levels of U.S. systems of justice are charged upon citation or conviction. 

Georgia Southern University

Expert on the intersection of violent behavior and victimization, the developmental outcomes associated with trauma and abuse, and violence prevention.

The Ohio State University

Expert on criminal justice reform surrounding marijuana convictions.

University of Washington


Expert on death penalty reform and the causes and consequences of the expansion of the U.S. criminal justice system. She also studies racial disproportionality in the criminal justice system, the assessment and consequences of legal financial obligations, urban social control, drug policy, and capital punishment.

University of California Irvine

Expert on prisons, prisoners’ rights, and the impact of prison and punishment policy on individuals, communities, and legal systems. Her research has examined medical experimentation on prisoners, record-clearing programs, gun control laws, and the use of long-term solitary confinement in the United States and internationally.

University of Massachusetts Boston

Expert on the politics of punishment and criminal justice with a particular focus on public opinion. 

Notre Dame of Maryland University

Expert on interdisciplinary approaches to mental health, community violence, Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) for law enforcement, and race and ethnic relations. 

Expert on policing in the United States, gangs, firearms, social networks, and violence prevention. 

University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Expert on criminal justice policies, practices, and institutions in the United States over the past half-century, including penal change, mass probation, and policing.

The Sentencing Project

Expert on parole, racial disparities in criminal justice outcomes, and the dramatic reductions in New York, New Jersey, and California’s prison populations. 

Rutgers University

Expert on the consequences of the prison boom for families, with an emphasis on childhood well-being and family functioning.

Green New Deal

University of Michigan

Expert on system reform and consumer protections to ensure that households and communities have access to safe and affordable financial products and services.

University of California, Santa Barbara

Expert on climate policy inaction in the face of dramatic economic and social costs associated with the climate crisis. 

Colgate University

Expert on environmental and public policy, subnational sustainability and climate action planning, climate and energy politics, policy process theories, the role of science and technical information in policymaking, and issues of urban social equity.

New College of Florida

Expert on inequality by race, class and gender, and sustainable economics.

University of Rhode Island

Expert on climate change policy, identity politics, and climate change communications.

University of California, Santa Barbara


Expert on public policy and environmental politics, with a focus on environmental and energy policies in the United States and Canada. 

Gun Control

Duke University

Expert on violence prevention (with a particular focus on firearms), criminal justice policy and crime prevention.

Duke University

Expert on the role of social movements and interest groups in representing less-advantaged groups in gun policy.

Northwestern University

Expert on urban neighborhoods, street gangs, violent crime, gun violence, and social networks.

University of Connecticut

Expert on the effect of policy on family violence and gun violence prevention

Duke University

Expert on how different public policies relate to varied outcomes, particularly those affecting the number of gun deaths in the American states.

Health Care

University of California, San Francisco

Expert on disparities in access to care, prisoner health, substance abuse, and HIV/AIDS.

Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine


Expert on health policy, quality improvement, health disparities, medical informatics, patient safety, and social epidemiology research.

University of Chicago

Expert on health policy and politics, patient and consumer participation in health policymaking, and the American welfare state.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Served as a technical consultant to the Obama Administration and worked with both the Administration and Congress to help craft the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Expert on U.S. health care policy, the politics of health care reform, and Medicare.

Harvard School of Public Health


Expert on health coverage and access to care, especially for low-income Americans.

Money in Politics

Stanford University

Expert on ideology, campaign finance and interest groups politics.

Duke University


Expert on the influence of legislators’ backgrounds on economic policy and inequalities of social class.

Stony Brook University


Expert on America's campaign finance system and political inequality.

Expert on party politics and dark money.

Yale University

Expert on the role of donor access and money on voter persuasion.

State University of New York

 Expert on money in politics in federal and state elections.

Barnard College

Expert on campaign finance, election administration, and voting behavior.

Claremont McKenna College

Expert on campaign finance law and money in politics in both state and federal elections.

University of Connecticut

Expert on campaign finance, voting rights, and election administration cases in the courts. 

Stetson University College of Law

Expert on money in politics, strengthening election laws, and improving corporate governance.

Pennsylvania State University


Expert on interest group influence in the policy process, money in politics, and the politics of income inequality.

Student Debt

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Expert on the intersection of family economics and social demography, including the role of education loans and credit card debt on early union formation and racial wealth differences in student loan repayment.

University of California, Merced

Expert on tuition reform in public universities. Eaton's research examines relationships between financialization and growing inequalities in U.S. higher education. 

University of San Francisco

Expert on rising tuition and college access, choice, and success for for low-income and minority students.

Dartmouth College

Expert on rising debt and social inequality, as well as how debt and the Great Recession are linked to population health and mental health.

San Francisco State University

Expert on minority student matriculation in higher education and postsecondary campus climate issues related to students of color.

St. Mary's College of California

Expert on America's Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

University of Pennsylvania

Expert on the student debt crisis and identifying how social structures, educational practices, and public policies can promote college access and attainment, particularly for groups that continue to be underrepresented in higher education.