Ohio University

Challenging Dialogues

The purpose of The OHIO Challenging Dialogues for Contemporary Issues Lecture Series is to have a constructive conversation surrounding issues that are leading the news cycle and overwhelming the public psyche. It is higher education’s responsibility to serve the greater good by expanding and improving humankind’s understanding of the world around us. This lecture series will strive to bring clarity to a world too often clouded in confusion. One of the hallmarks of the series is that multiple perspectives will be presented on any given topic in an effort to better understand the full complexity of the issues.

We do not seek to find answers to society’s most difficult problems. We seek to better understand the problem itself. We seek to create better listeners and by extension, better communicators. And we seek to find comfort in the uncomfortable. The discussions facilitated during these lecture series are not meant to make us feel better about ourselves or bolster our own personal arguments; these conversations should challenge our worldview in a way that is atypical and perhaps even unexpected.

Committee Co-Chairs

Dr. Jenny Hall-Jones, Interim Vice President for Student Affairs

Dr. Theodore Hutchinson, Associate Professor, Patton College of Education and
Director, Undergraduate Diversity Studies Certificate

Upcoming Lecture

More information will be shared about the Fall 2021 lecture soon.

Latest Lecture 

A Discussion Featuring the Documentary "Emanuel" by Alumnus Dane Smith
Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021

Attendees collectively watched a 75-minute documentary, "Emanuel," a film about the 2015 Charleston, South Carolina, church shooting that killed nine Black members in an act of terrorism, the history of race relations in Charleston, and the significance of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in the national conversation of race in America today.

Following the screening, alumnus, Dane Smith '84 (BSC, Organizational Communication), who was the Executive Producer of the film, moderated a discussion with two individuals who lost family members and one of the shooting survivors.

Read more this OHIO News article.

Past Lectures

Climate Change in the Age of Trump
Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020 

Lisa Friedman, a reporter on The New York Times Climate Desk, led the discussion on "Climate Change in the Age of Trump."

As a journalist, Friedman focuses on climate and environmental policy in Washington and has covered eight international climate talks. Friedman has chased climate-related stories from the bottom of a Chinese coal mine to the top of snow-capped Himalaya Mountains. 

Trial by Jury: A Case of Deportation
September 12, 2019

Should cherished rights and liberties be extended to non-citizens residing in the United States, and if so, do those rights supersede the ideological imperatives of political power? 

Members of the Ohio University community weighed in on that question during the University’s third Challenging Dialogues lecture, “Trial by Jury: A Case of Deportation,” presented by OHIO alumnus Kyle Bowser. 

Read more in this OHIO News article.


When to talk, when to walk, & how to always stand in your truth
April 22, 2019

Al Letson created, hosted, and executive produced PRX’s State of the Re:Union (SOTRU) from 2008-2014. The program received critical acclaim, and numerous awards, including a Peabody Award. In 2015 SOTRU ended production and Letson joined the CIR and PRX to help launch and host public radio’s first hour-long investigative journalism show, Reveal. Reveal is heard on over 470 public radio stations and over 1 million downloads a month. Letson also created and hosts the podcast Errthang. Errthang is just that, everything: storytelling, radio drama, pop culture reviews, and interviews. Letson takes all the things floating in his head and turns it into a mixtape of delight for listeners. A true renaissance man, Letson got his start on stage as a performance poet, actor, and playwright. His plays and performances have been produced off-Broadway and on stages across the country. A self-described comic nerd, Letson has written for DC Comics and published 2 graphic novels. While it may seem like his interests are varied, they are all aspects of who Al Letson is, a storyteller for the new millennium.



The Power of In/Civility: Engaging in Challenging Conversations Across the University, Community, Nation
Thursday, January 24, 2019

Dr. Carolyn Lukensmeyer is the Executive Director Emeritus of the National Institute for Civil Discourse and the founder of AmericaSpeaks, a non-partisan, non-profit organization that is internationally renowned as being a leader in the field of "deliberative democracy and citizen engagement." According to its website, AmericaSpeaks holds that people can and will find common ground despite deep differences in opinion to solve problems.