Hot Topics Café

HTC Column

Past Hot Topics Cafés.
The Hot Topics Café is a program that creates a forum for civil discourse about issues of community concern. Members of the community are invited to voice their views, and are encouraged to listen to the views of others with respect and compassion. Participants receive unbiased informational handouts to provide a context for the discussion. The Hot Topics Café is nonpartisan, and we do not endorse a position with respect to the issues discussed. We do not aim to achieve consensus, resolve problems, or chart a course for action. We are there to give members of the community an opportunity to listen to one another in an atmosphere of reason and civility. The Hot Topics Café is a partnership between the SBS Compassion Project and NAU’s Philosophy in the Public Interest.

View our informational handouts and community discussion summaries from past hot topics cafés.

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Hot Topics Café Model

In the Hot Topics Cafés, discussions are facilitated by philosophers who encourage diverse views, yet point out fallacious reasoning or other logical problems that may arise. A social psychologist is present to talk about the role of compassion in the conversation, and to intervene if there is a lack of civility. Hot Topics Café is a joint project between NAU’s Compassion Project and Philosophy in the Public Interest.

  1. Faculty facilitators lay the ground rules for the conversations, explaining the importance of compassion in speaking and listening to others.
  2. Student interns will provide the factual background on the issue in question, making complicated topics accessible.
  3. Faculty facilitate a public conversation that welcomes a variety of viewpoints. Facilitators also identify fallacies and make helpful distinctions, such as pointing out the difference between a moral concern and a legal concern.
  4. A recorder reports on the variety of viewpoints that were heard at the event.

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Hot Topics Café is made possible by the Arizona Humanities, the McKenzie Endowment for Democracy, and the SBS Compassion Project.