Campus Engagement

The Barkley Forum cannot serve the overall Emory vision without a robust set of programs to augment a campus culture of discussion and debate on par with its nationally recognized competitive debate and community outreach efforts.  The Barkley Forum believes that "courageous leadership" cannot exist without preparing students to participate in civil dialogue, and the Barkley Forum campus engagement initiatives seek to be at the forefront of that effort.  The initiative's campus programs are designed to brand Emory as a courageous leader through inquiry-driven ethical engagement around difficult conversations.  

This project is a partnership between the Barkley Forum and the Emory Wheel to produce monthly written debates on salient campus issues.  The Wheel editors select the topic, and Barkley Forum students produce an entertaining and evidence-driven debate to be published in the subsequent issue.  The goal is to provide the campus a consistent model of civil discourse engagement that will lead to better critical thinking.  Critical listening is an urgent first step in doing conflict well, or, as international business consultant Margaret Heffernan suggested, a way to “create thinking partners instead of echo chambers.” 

September 2, 2015

February 20, 2015

September 12, 2014

January 23, 2014

October 28, 2013

September 12, 2013

April 4, 2013

Elbert Hubbard wrote, “It may happen sometimes that a long debate becomes the cause of a longer friendship. Commonly, those who dispute with one another at last agree.” With Hubbard’s appeal to debate as a mechanism for building camaraderie and mutual appreciation, the Barkley Forum will host what we hope will become an annual event at Emory – The Dooley Debates.

The Dooley Debates will encourage Emory University students to participate in a one-day debate tournament with the top performers receiving prize money to support the philanthropic work of the student organizations they are representing. Emory faculty and staff will serve as judges. Further incentives will be provided through opportunities to participate in public debates on other campuses.  For example, the Barkley Forum is partnering with George Washington University in 2014 to promote a series of debates in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision: Brown v. Topeka Board of Education, which held that education had to be equal.

The intention is that the Dooley Debates can assist in facilitating conversations across Emory’s various institutional divides and on difficult topics (e.g., dissent and protest, class and labor, diversity, academic curriculum revisions).

This initiative honors the long and storied history of debating societies at Emory.  In the 1920s Phi Gamma and Few literary societies were led by Speech and Theology Professor Nolan A. Goodyear.  His dedication to debate as a form of civic engagement and unwavering belief in its transformative power set a standard that can be seen in the work of Emory’s current Executive Director of Forensics, Melissa Maxcy Wade.    

The Goodyear-Wade Debates is a collaborative effort between the Barkley Forum and Eagles Speak, a student organization dedicated to the promotion of civic engagement on Emory’s campus, to facilitate public debates on relevant political and cultural issues. International students are particularly targeted for active participation as a means of cross-cultural communication.

Unlike traditional debates, audience members actively participate in determining the topic and debating the issues. The role of official moderators ensures an equal amount of speaking time’s being allocated to both sides of the issue.  Learning to examine all sides of an issue is a skill needed for solving the problems of the 21st Century.

While history has largely confirmed that W.E.B. DuBois was correct that the problem of the 20th Century was the color line, many scholars believe that the problem of this century will be demographic shifts along that color line.  Changing patterns will alter our understanding of what it means to be a member of a racial majority and minority in the United States.  Project 2043 uses the census projection that by 2043 whites will no longer be the racial majority in the US as the backdrop for a cross-cultural conversation with Emory students about power dynamics and race relations.

Project 2043 is a collaborative effort with the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Life and College Council. This program is part of the ongoing effort throughout Campus Life to make Emory a more engaging and inclusive community for all students. 

In March of 2013, Project 2043 brought together students from across campus to engage in the first cross-cultural discussion.  Going forward, Project 2043 will serve as a model for many other programs on the campus including a video project at the Emory National Debate Institute with Beverly Cox Clark, the Associate Director of Emory University Media Relations.