Campus, community invited to be part of PBS look at higher education

WBGU-PBS and BGSU are one of 11 community sites across the country selected to host "By The People 2007: Dialogues in Democracy."

Dr. Albert Dzur

The public is invited to participate in a nonpartisan forum discussion on the future of higher education in Ohio from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 20 in 113 Olscamp Hall. A concurrent forum will be held at Kent State University in conjunction with WVIZ, Cleveland.  BGSU and Kent State were selected to host the timely discussion because they are home to the first state universities (established in 1910) in two vital regions of northern Ohio, according to Dr. Albert Dzur, political science.

Dzur has been the coordinator of the event for BGSU along with other members of the Reflective Public Dialogue planning committee, including Drs. Neocles Leontis, chemistry; Vivian Patraka, English and the director of the Institute for the Study of Culture and Society; Katerina Ruedi Ray, director of the School of Art, and Carney Strange, leadership and policy studies. Their work has been supported by the Center for Regional Development, a sponsor of the project.

“This forum is a terrific opportunity for people to come together, share experiences and knowledge, and hopefully make a constructive impact on the larger public debate over changes in higher education,” Dzur said.

Background information will be presented to participants, who will take part in small-group discussions on the value and mission of higher education in Ohio.  In the afternoon, citizen deliberators will be joined by experts and policymakers in an electronically linked discussion with Kent State. Lunch, snacks and a $20 gift certificate will be provided that day to participants, and everyone (community members, faculty, staff and students) is welcome. 

Registration begins at 8 a.m., followed by the first discussion session at 9. To register for the event, call 2-7270 or email For more information, go to

The discussions will culminate in a national town hall meeting at the historic House of Burgesses in Colonial Williamsburg. The meeting will convene for four days in November and will bring together a diverse group of influential Americans who will listen to and weigh what citizens in the 11 communities said about the critical issues they have deliberated.

Recorded segments from the BGSU and Kent State events will be featured in a national PBS "By The People" broadcast anchored by Jim Lehrer, tentatively scheduled to air in January. The PBS MacNeil-Lehrer Productions project is designed to reinforce the need for civic engagement and remind citizens that the American experience is built on their shared ownership of the democratic values of the founders.

This is the second time WBGU-PBS has been selected as a "By The People" project site. In 2005, it was chosen to convene citizen deliberations on health care in Defiance, Findlay, Lima, Fremont and Bowling Green.

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is partnering with "By The People" on the "Dialogues in Democracy" project to promote greater public ownership and civic engagement with the critical issues of our times, rallied together under the theme "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." Ongoing project funding partners include the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.

This year’s “By The People” deliberation will kick off “Renewing Public Trust for the Next 100 Years,” a nonpartisan dialogue series on higher education taking place at Kent State and BGSU. The series, being planned by scholars and community leaders at both universities, will give citizens the opportunity to reexamine issues related to the public purposes of higher education in the 21st century.

October 15, 2007