As we approach the end of the year, we want to thank you for being a part of the Program for Public Discourse in 2021 and share some things the Carolina community made possible in our biggest year yet.
Introducing the Abbey Speaker and Debating Public Policy Series
Enabled by the generosity of Doug and Nancy Abbey ‘74, PPD established our signature Abbey Speaker Series this February. The series brings experts from different disciplines and fields to the Carolina campus four times each year to foster productive dialogue on timely issues across a range of perspectives.
In 2021, our series created dialogues between academics, practitioners, and public officials on defining racial justice in the twenty-first century, the future of conservatism in the United States, social media’s role in democracy at home and abroad, and bridging divisions between rural and urban communities.
Alongside the Abbey Speaker Series, PPD launched the Debating Public Policy Series, which advances public discourse through modeling robust debate and dialogue about critical issues in contemporary public affairs.
Drawing on the expertise of UNC’s faculty and alumni, this year’s programming included a debate about whether and how to raise the minimum wage and an agonistic dialogue on the contentious issue of voting reform.
Expanding collaboration across campus
Through introducing new initiatives and broadening the scope of our existing programs, PPD worked with more UNC faculty and students than ever before in 2021.
In May of this year, faculty members joined administrative personnel and students for the UNC Faculty Symposium on Deliberative Pedagogy. Attendees shared their ideas and refined their skills for fostering dialogue and debate in the classroom across four panel discussions. Topics included UNC’s Communication Beyond Carolina curriculum, facilitating and evaluating public discourse as an instructor, engaging race and racism in the classroom, and student perspectives on dialogue and debate.
At the start of the Fall semester, thirty instructors from across the Carolina campus joined PPD as Faculty Affiliates, lending their expertise to developing and implementing ongoing and future programming. Three of these affiliates participated in our faculty panel discussion on Democracy and Public Discourse, which introduced our 2021-2022 program theme.
This Fall, over half of the 1,000 attendees that participated in PPD programming were Carolina students. In addition to attending our series events and participating in our undergraduate Agora Fellows program, students joined us for workshops to discuss the challenges and opportunities for public discourse in our community and a variety of department-specific events, including an environmental communication clinic with members of the Department of Public Policy’s Data-Driven EnviroLab.
We thank everyone from the Carolina community and beyond who was part of PPD in 2021. We look forward to meeting everyone who will be a part of it in 2022 as we continue exploring the intersections of Democracy and Public Discourse.