Kennesaw State University launches forum to spark open dialogue on critical national issues


Inaugural event slated for Nov. 12 includes keynote on teaching conservatism, debate on "…

Georgia (Nov 11, 2013)Inaugural event slated for Nov. 12 includes keynote on teaching conservatism, debate on "Obamacare"

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KENNESAW, Ga.  (Nov. 11, 2013) — The new healthcare act, immigration reform, “big data” and privacy — issues that spark passionate debate throughout the country — are some of the topics that will be tackled in Kennesaw State University’s new “Marketplace of Ideas” forum, which kicks off Tuesday.

The first event, scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m., will be held in the University’s Social Sciences Building Auditorium. It will feature a keynote address, “On Teaching Conservatism,” delivered by Jonathan Imber, the Jean Glasscock Professor of Sociology at Wellesley College.  Imber’s lecture will be followed by a debate focusing on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as “Obamacare.”

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 a different issue of national concern.

“Universities play an essential role as centers for civil debate, civil discourse and civil discussion about vital issues,” said Kennesaw State University President Daniel S. Papp. “Through this forum, we hope to engage our students and the community-at-large in a civil and respectful exchange of ideas and candid discussion — which should contribute to opened lines of communication and greater understanding of different perspectives.”

Imber, the keynote speaker for the inaugural forum, is the author of “Trusting Doctors: The Decline of Moral Authority in American Medicine,” and the editor-in-chief of Society, a scientific journal publishing research on social science and public policy. His research focuses on religious bioethics, represented in all major faith traditions, as well as the role religious authority has played in defining the medical vocation.

Following Imber’s address, Kennesaw State University Professor of Sociology Melvyn Fein and Assistant Professor of Political Science and Criminal Justice Kenneth White will participate in a “Red vs. Blue” debate of the Affordable Healthcare Act, labeled “The Great Debate I: Obamacare – Yes or No?” 

Fein, who will espouse the “red” viewpoint, is a certified clinical sociologist who spent more than 20 years
in clinical practice. He is the author of numerous books and academic papers, including “The Great Middle Class Revolution” and “Peoplization: An Introduction to Social Life.”  Fein currently concentrates on the study of sociological theory and the sociology of morality.

White, who will espouse the “blue” viewpoint, is an assistant professor of political science and criminal justice. He practiced criminal defense and constitutional law in California before joining academia. His current research interests and publication topics range from the media and popular culture, to political participation, civil rights, the presidency, and legal theory and political philosophy.

Fein and White have been debating one another through a podcast series they have created titled “Honestly Speaking: Red Meets Blue,” which is presented to the faculty and students of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. To date, they have tackled issues such as the government shutdown and the Obama presidency.

“Through their podcast, Mel and Ken have developed an educational and entertaining forum that demonstrates how people with differing opinions can respectfully discuss sensitive issues,” said Robert “Robin” H. Dorff, dean of Kennesaw State’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “Through the ‘Marketplace of Ideas’ events, we hope to expand on that concept and provide a forum that is informative and educational.”

The two-hour event is free and open to the public.

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Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering 90 graduate and undergraduate degrees, including doctorates in education, business and nursing and a Ph.D. in international conflict management. A member of the University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive, residential institution with a growing student population of more than 24,600 from 130 countries.



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