CSU, Chico News

Technology Issues in Spotlight for Students in Chico Great Debate

Date: 04-01-2015

Sarah Langford
Public Affairs
Zach Justus, Coordinator
First-Year Experience Program

Technology-related issues and policies will be in focus for nearly 2,000 students from California State University, Chico and Butte College who will participate in the Chico Great Debate on Friday, April 3, in the Chico City Council Chambers. Topics to be discussed include social media addiction, drones in combat, artificial intelligence and genetic modification.

Held each semester, the Great Debate is a daylong event featuring speeches, presentations and debates prepared by students on a timely and controversial public issue. The aim is to encourage respectful exchange and collaborative civic learning through civil discourse. Students in first-year communications courses spend the semester researching their topics and preparing to present their findings at the event.

The day begins at 9 a.m. with opening remarks by Interim Provost Susan Elrod, followed by student presentations and debates every hour. The main event begins at 6:30 p.m. and will feature a debate by students and community advocates on police body cameras. A civic expo featuring interactive presentations by student groups will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the City Plaza.

This spring’s civic expo will also feature booths staffed by representatives of several local technology firms, including Build.com, SunGard and 11 Main. This will give the participating students an opportunity to ask questions and learn issues facing technology businesses, which could be possible future employers.

The Great Debate is a component of CSU, Chico’s First-Year Experience program, which aims to help new students acclimate to campus life by engaging them in civic activities. A joint project of the University, the City of Chico and Butte College, one of the event’s goals is to restore civility, reason and rhetorical argument to public forums. Prior Great Debate topics included free speech and protest, education reform, increasing restrictions on immigration, legalizing marijuana and whether California should repeal the Global Warming Solutions Act.

Since its launch in 2010, the program has become a model for other colleges and universities. Butte College joined the program in 2012, placing students from speech courses at the community college alongside their peers from CSU, Chico’s communication classes. Chabot College in Hayward and Shasta College have patterned programs after Chico’s, and faculty from the University of Nevada, Reno traveled to Chico in 2014 to observe the event with plans to develop their own.

“We hold the Great Debate every semester to engage as many students and community members as possible,” said Zach Justus, coordinator, First-Year Experience Program. “The town-gown relationship is critical to the University, the city and to Butte College. While the topics change each semester, the themes of civility and community interaction are always with us.”

More information on the Great Debate may be found at www.csuchico.edu/fye/greatdebate and www.facebook.com/GDChico.