CSU, Chico News

Chico Great Debate Tackles Higher Education Issues

Date: 04-22-2016

Joe Wills
Public Affairs

Higher education is the focus for this semester’s Chico Great Debate, the event where California State University, Chico, Butte College and the City of Chico join to create a public space for civil discourse where the American ideals of civility, reason, respect and rhetorical argument are put into action.

The Chico Great Debate is free and will take place today, April 22, in the Chico City Council Chambers, 421 Main St. Events occur throughout the day, every hour, concluding with a “Main Event” at 6:30 p.m.

This spring’s topic is higher education, and debate topics will include the cost of higher education, safety issues, teaching approaches and health issues. The concluding debate will examine President Obama's plan for two years of free community college. This debate will feature community advocates and CSU, Chico debate team members.

The Chico Great Debate aims to reinvigorate the public sphere as a healthy site of democratic practice. Each semester, the event focuses on a timely and controversial public issue to discuss. Students have the opportunity to research topics related to the chosen issue, then debate and make presentations on the topic.

The community is invited to watch, participate and enjoy. Audience members will be enlisted to participate in judging the strength of arguments and presentations, as well as engage in a question and answer period at the end of each session.

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. Prior Great Debate topics included technology, free speech and protest, 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.

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