Students discuss political civility in Open Forum

In 2007, Karen Adams, the Interim Director of the Fellowships Office began her career at Tech and decided to attend a National Association of Fellowship Advisors Conference. There she heard of the concept of an “Open Forum,” a forum through which students engage in discussions to express their opinions.
At Tech, Adams collaborated with Dana Hartley, the director of Undergraduate Studies, to create the Open Forum.  It is a group effort of students, staff and faculty to discuss different socio-political topics.
From the time of the inception of Open Forum, Adams noted that students needed a way to answer difficult questions and to hear what others’ views were on those same issues.
She spoke of Dr. Hartley’s own experience as an MIT graduate student who was involved in similar “open forums” with her professors.
“This time to talk with both faculty and peers, find out what they were doing and thinking, and as a result, discover personal thoughts about many subjects, proved to be an important part of her development as a student,” Adams said.
Both creators were concerned that “students are busy and often do not come to meetings others set up,” according to Adams, so a student Open Forum Board was established to incorporate the student body into the project.
“The Open Forums are meant to provide a venue for students, faculty and all members of the Tech community to discuss philosophical topics,” said Ameet Doshi, the User Engagement Librarian and Assessment Coordinator.
The objectives listed on the website,, include “[promoting the] intellectual community, [broadening] students’ perspective, [developing] comfort with diversity, and [enhancing] speaking and listening skills.”
“[It is] one more step toward creating a culture of intellectual community at Georgia Tech,” Hartley said.
This week, the Open Forum discussion covered civility, “Politics and Civility: Watch Your Mouth…or Not.”
“Participants in Open Forum are surprisingly varied. Just like the members of the Executive Board, we have students, faculty, staff and even alumni participate in our discussions each week,” said Lindsay Anglin, Marketing Coordinator of Undergraduate Studies.
“It’s generally good conversation with people from different disciplinary backgrounds,” said Nirouz Elhammali, IAML ‘07.
The Executive Board chooses the topic.
“The board [tries to strike] the right balance in the discussion, students have the opportunity to fully explore new ideas while relating them back to insights on campus,” said Austen Edwards, a board member and a third-year INTA and PUBP double major.
“[I have] always been interested in the big moral and philosophical questions,” said Anna Alexander, a board member and a fourth-year MSE major.
Another aspect of public speaking that the forum sponsors is allowing a participant to share a “This I Believe” essay.
Undergraduate Student Body President Corey T. Boone and Honors Program Director Greg Nobles have each shared essays on their personal beliefs  at previous Open Forum events.
On Feb. 1, Matt LeBrun, a fourth-year MGT major, will present his “This I Believe” essay.


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