A Marketplace of Ideas


Professors face off in lively debate during University’s first “Marketplace of Ideas…

Georgia (Nov 13, 2013)

Professors face off in lively debate during University’s first “Marketplace of Ideas” forum

Kennesaw State University’s first “Marketplace of Ideas,” a new series focused on involving students, faculty and the community-at-large in an exchange of ideas on critical national issues, kicked off Nov. 12 with a talk from an academic scholar on conservatism and a lively debate on Obamacare between two Kennesaw State professors.

One of the nation’s leading scholars, Jonathan B. Imber, the Jean Glasscock Professor of Sociology at Wellesley College, gave the keynote, “On Teaching Conservatism,” to a crowd of more than 150 in the Social Sciences auditorium.

Imber discussed the history of conservative thought, partisan politics and the cultural politics of higher education, defining how conservatism is often taught or explored at college campuses.  His topics covered conservatism as it related to welfare, abortion and same-sex marriage.  Imber also shared how diversity is sought in higher education “in a cheerful attempt to bring new ideas, but the real diversity is intellectual diversity.”

“I teach students conservatism… not to change minds, but to understand something and the process by which we do it,” said Imber, who is not a proponent of conformity but rather believes in understanding your own convictions.  “That’s my one way of activism.”  

Following Imber’s keynote address, Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Robin Dorff moderated “The Great Debate I: Obamacare – Yes or No?”  between Kennesaw State professors Melvyn Fein and Kenneth White. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, dubbed Obamacare, is aimed at reforming the American health care system.

White, an assistant professor of political science and criminal justice who represented the “blue” viewpoint, opened the debate with statistics in support of Obamacare. White explained that Obamacare was created to lower the cost of health care for the government, guarantee a choice of doctors/plans and assure affordable health care for all. 

Fein, a professor of sociology who represented the “red” viewpoint, is an opponent of Obamacare, touting for tort reform rather than a change in the health care system. While he said he doesn’t like “lies” and believes “statistics are just glorious figures,” he also thinks that Obamacare would not improve health care outcomes.

“If you bring more people in and give more services, without any increase in the number of doctors, your demand increases but your supply stays stagnant and your prices rise,” Fein said. “Simple economics. I learned that in high school, but Barack Obama and his minions did not.  It is the lower class that will get the leftovers.”

But White contended that it wasn’t so simple.

“With mandates of free preventative care, people can avoid negative outcomes (of illness) in the future,” White said. “People will use health care when they need it, rather than putting it off and letting things fester.”

White also said that Obamacare will not bankrupt the U.S. but rather pay for itself in 10 years, as long as people sign up for the new health care plan options. Fein disagreed, saying that costs would be going up dramatically and that Obamacare is “not bending the cost curve down.”

The pair debated for nearly an hour over topics such as the politics surrounding the rollout, Obamacare taxes and subsidies, the financial fate of the U.S. and the benefit of Obamacare for Americans.  Dorff also presented questions from the audience to the debaters.

Plans call for hosting a “Marketplace of Ideas” event each semester, featuring guest speakers and panel discussions on a wide range of issues. Each event also will culminate with a “Great Debate” on an issue of national concern. The next event is planned for April 2014.

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu