CSU, Chico News

‘Great Debate’ Event Hopes to Promote Civil Discourse Around Heated Topics

Date: 03-26-2010

Joe Wills
Public Affairs

California State University, Chico is teaming up with the City of Chico on an event next month to create more civil discourse around contentious community issues.

The goal of the event, called the Chico Great Debate, is to provide voters, decision-makers and community members with information and multiple perspectives on a difficult issue. City officials chose the topic of the legalization of marijuana for this spring’s event, and city and university officials hope other issues can be addressed in future events.

Currently, approximately 700 CSU, Chico students, many of them first-year students, are conducting interviews and doing research into pro and con sides of the issue. Coursework for students in Communication Studies 131 and 132 includes topical debates, speeches and projects. The work will culminate in a day of presentations and debates free and open to the public.

The Chico Great Debate will be held Thursday, April 29, with events starting at 9:30 a.m. and continuing throughout the day in the City Council chambers.

City and university officials hope the event can help in the effort to restore civility, reason and rhetorical argument into public forums. Seeking to reinvigorate the public sphere as a healthy site of democratic practice, the Chico Great Debate is structured to present contentious issues in a setting that follows orderly rules of speaking and listening.

CSU, Chico’s First Year Experience Program, which has also sponsored community town hall meetings led by students since 2006, is a sponsor of the Great Debate event. The First Year Experience Program is designed to help first-year students succeed in their transition to university life and become active community participants.

The schedule of events is available at http://www.csuchico.edu/fye/greatdebate/index.shtml.

For more information, call 898-3705 or e-mail fye@csuchico.edu.