Day of Discourse Informs and Inspires the Next Generation of Voters
More than 100 participants, including local high school students, students of all majors from Kent State and Akron and community members, gathered at the University of Akron on October 11 for the Ohio Debate Commission’s Day Of Public Discourse.
The “Day of Public Discourse Program for Faculty and Students: Debates as a Pathway to Civic Participation and Public-Spirited Professions” brought together audience members in journalism, communication and political science fields to discuss the importance of debates and help students embrace their civic duty as the newest generation of voters.
The day was filled with refreshments and panels on different subjects such as “debating democracy” and “Ohio political/media ecosystem.”
The keynote speaker of the day was Mitchell S. McKinney, Ph.D., dean of the University of Akron Buchtel College of Arts and Sciences, professor of political communication, and Fellow in the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics.
McKinney shared his belief that engaging the youngest and future voters being the key to a vibrant democracy. He spoke to the audience of students about his research and led discussions on the historical and contemporary practices and challenges of political debate.
Director of Kent State’s School of Media and Journalism, Emily Metzger, moderated the afternoon panel on the political/media ecosystem. Speakers in the panel included Karen Kasler, bureau chief of the Ohio Statehouse News Bureau, Jim Crutchfield, editor-in-chief of the Marshal Project’s local news team in Cleveland, Lucia Walinchus, executive director of Eye on Ohio and Anthony Shoemaker, Ohio bureau Chief at Gannett.
“It was fun to be part of the planning process for the day with members of the OHDC,” Metzger said. “The whole purpose of the event on 10/11 was to promote student engagement. We wanted to help high school and college students recognize the joint roles that journalism and media play in democratic society. As they prepare for election day, citizens need information about policies and politics and politicians.”
The event also included a roundtable discussion, in which participants discussed materials collected from the U.S Senate and Ohio Governor candidates. After reviewing the materials, participants crafted questions related to issues such as women’s reproductive rights, reducing gun violence and school curriculum to submit to the campaigns.
Students in attendance were able to learn about career opportunities from professionals in different fields to round out the day of activities.
Sophie Young, a Kent State journalism student, attended the event ahead of her first election.
“This November will be my first time voting, so I went to the Day of Discourse to learn more about Ohio's candidates this year,” Young said. “I returned feeling more informed to vote. I enjoyed the panel of journalists who spoke on the intersection of media and politics, since I'm a journalism major. I loved learning from experienced professionals in my field, and meeting other students who were also there for learning and conversation.”
To learn more about the event visit www.uakron.edu/im/news/day-of-public-discourse.
To learn about Kent State’s School of Media and Journalism visit www.kent.edu/mdj.