The Fireside Chats
A Politics Discussion Group for SCU Students
The Fireside Chats is a weekly discussion group for students interested in discussing fundamental normative questions relating to government and public policy. The group meets every Wednesday evening from 6:00-8:00pm in room 246 (Conference Room) of the Arts & Sciences Building. The name was chosen by participating students and is taken from the term used by the press for Franklin Roosevelt’s informal radio addresses to the American people during the Great Depression.
Students are provided with a relaxed, non-classroom forum for the discussion of politics. Drawing on the format of Café Socrates in the philosophy department as a model, our discussion group provide a forum in which all participants are free to explore issues and ideas without the threat of personal attacks and partisan bickering.
TOPICS: Topics are chosen by the students and will be posted to the calendar here as soon as they are finalized. For those interested in additional information on selected topics, or other items that may be of interest to you, visit the Fireside Chats Facebook group (coming soon) to see what has been posted for the week.
- Intellectual Freedom & Political Bias at Universities
- Congress & Professional Sports?
- Housing & the Mortgage Industry Crisis
- Government Secularization and the Head Scarf Debate (A follow-up to the Ethics @ Noon panel from earlier in the day)
- Movie Night w/ PSSA, Room 135: Breach
- When does a democracy stop being a democracy? (A Thursday night joint meeting w/ Café Socrates)
- Pakistan: Ally or foe in the War on Terror?
- The Baby Boomers and Care for the Elderly
- China, Human Rights, & the 2008 Olympics
GUIDELINES FOR PARTICIPATION: This is not an organization with a lot of rules, regulations, or requirements for participation. But in order to promote a spirit of openness and honest inquiry we ask that participants:
- Refrain from personal attacks of any kind, whether directed at other participants or political figures, celebrities or even historical figures. Ad hominem attacks represent a deeply flawed argumentation strategy and they inhibit free discussion. Focus your attention not on the people associated with an idea or action, but rather on the actual ideas or actions themselves.
- In an effort to help participants avoid taking discussions personally, I ask that everyone make a genuine effort to dissociate the ideas and arguments put forward during our discussions from the people who made them. In other words, assume that the idea being proposed by a participant does not really represent their personal view, but rather is of the “devil’s advocate” variety. Even if you know that an idea being presented actually represents the true opinion of the person expressing it, I ask that you pretend or imagine that it is not for the purposes of our discussion. This will help keep our arguments on the level of ideas and away from personal attacks.
Do not be afraid, then, to propose ideas or arguments or positions that are not really your own view. Our discussions will benefit from the exploration of a variety of viewpoints, so don’t be afraid to play “devil’s advocate” or to float a “trial balloon” just to see what other people think of the idea.
ATTENDANCE, ETC: No worries here – attendance is not mandatory, you may come and go as you please (with a minimum of disruption if possible), and your level of participation is up to you. Typically, light refreshments will be served (e.g., pizza, sub sandwiches, soda), so you needn't worry about our meeting time conflicting with dinner.