Weekly Debate in the Fall on Campus? VOTE
Introducing the Agora
posted over 9 years ago
Back in the good old days of Greece, the AGORA was an open space where people would mill around or gather to listen to debates, teachers, and just basically philosophize all day. They gained a reputation for it. The Greeks were known in the Ancient world for being thinkers--they loved to listen to new ideas and to debate their favorite philosophies.
Philosophy translates as 'the love of wisdom.' It embodies the free exchange of ideas as a central value which is important for all people to experience, the better to discover Truth.
MyUMBC has recently been able to demonstrate to us that there are many people on campus and off that are adamant about their personal philosophies and want to share their ideas and debate causes that arouse their intellect and conscience.
Internet discussions have their benefits--relatively impersonal, self-contained, and slow, allowing more time for people to research topics in between posts.
However, they also have drawbacks--difficulties in discerning tone, slow--making it difficult for a debate to be wrapped up quickly and neatly (sometimes it becomes hard to keep track of what's going on), and a lack of dynamism--it is impossible to read your opponents or your audience in real time, or be able to make adjustments to your speech on the fly, the better to clarify your points if they are misunderstood.
Regarding the final point, there appears to be significant personal desire in the campus community to warrant a weekly public debate, perhaps on an open space on campus such as the UC steps or the grassy area between the Commons and the Quad, or an indoor location with podium-style auditorium seating. This is my proposal.
Seeing as how the university community is so engaged and willing to participate in discussions about hot topics that both interest and affect all of us--discussions that are important to have--I believe it is in the best interest of someone (I don't know who to designate, yet) to create an official "Agora," of sorts; a public forum on campus to meet weekly, perhaps at different times, to discuss one particular sensitive, high-profile topic of interest.
The format of the debates can be something like this: an online discussion thread on myUMBC determines the topic for that week's debate and elects two or more debators to research and prepare arguments for either side of a hot-button issue. Then there is a public meeting in an open, accessible area which any and all are invited to, where the orators give their arguments and then debate with each other for some time, involving the audience as well. At the conclusion of the debate, I can almost guarantee that people will still be discussing the issue on location in smaller groups, which is what's great about such public debates--sparking discussion. Later, there can be a follow-up discussion on myUMBC where the debate can be discussed so that people who were unable to attend but wanted to can participate, and then the next week's topic will be decided.
So, should elements of the campus community and administration coordinate to produce a part-formal, part-informal weekly debate series in a public location on campus for students (and others) to participate in?
Perhaps as described above, perhaps with some modifications. Please vote and discuss what you would like to have, and what you think of the proposal.
(edited over 9 years ago)