Issues in the Public Square


In the spring of 2016, the Norbert O. Schedler Honors College revived a longstanding traditional event known as Issues in the Public Square. In its new form, Issues in the Public Square is a day-long symposium-style event that provides an opportunity for students, faculty, staff, and the broader community to share research that impacts our society.

Issues in the Public Square has three goals:

  • to begin a meaningful dialogue about, and advance our understanding of, issues of public concern;
  • to showcase undergraduate scholarship; and
  • to bring to campus a scholar who is engaged in applied research, and is using inquiry and collaboration to actively address real-world problems.

About the Theme

This year’s theme is Engaging the Challenge: Climate Change and a Sustainably Just Future. We view this theme as an extension of Challenge Week 2019: Climate Change—Resiliency and Hope, a Schedler Honors College-sponsored event held in the fall. We brought to campus speakers who have chosen to act and work with the reality of climate change with hope for establishing a resilient present and building a resilient future.  Issues in the Public Square 2020 continues this conversation.

Our keynote speaker is Dr. Maria Caffrey, a climate scientist at the University of Colorado and former consultant with the National Park Service. Dr. Caffrey’s last project for the NPS, which looked at the projected impacts of climate change-related storms and rising sea levels on 118 National Park Service sites, has been in the political news. Her report, submitted in 2016, has been blocked and censored and Dr. Caffrey has stepped forward in Capitol Hill hearings as an advocate not just for science, but for science in the public square.

We are also honored to have Jade Begay open Issues in the Public Square with a morning plenary talk. Ms. Begay is an Indigenous filmmaker (Diné and Tesuque Pueblo) and Sustainability and Justice Communications Fellow at Resource Media. She has a Masters in Environmental Leadership from Naropa University which trains individuals in leading local, grass-roots change with the twin goals of environmental sustainability and social justice. Her work will showcase a creative, community-based way to engage the public square.

How to Participate

Be part of this conversation by either submitting a proposal for Issues in the Public Square or registering to attend.

Submitting a Proposal

Proposals can be for a fifteen-minute presentation, a research poster, display of a creative work, or performance of a creative work. 

Criteria for submission:

  • You are a member of the Schedler Honors College or University Scholars Program.
  • You have begun, are in the midst of, or completed a research paper or project on an issue of public concern (not necessarily related to the theme).

The proposal submission deadline is Monday, March 16th, by midnight.

To submit a proposal to go your Honors portal log-in by the deadline of 11:59 p.m. on Monday, March 16. Note: Schedler Honors sophomores will click on the Sophomore Lecture tab and all others will use the Issues in the Public Square tab. Everyone is required to submit a title and 200-400 word abstract.

Registering to Attend

Issues in the Public Square is open to the campus and regional community.  If you are interested, you are welcome to attend.  Registration is free and includes a banquet lunch, but is limited to the first 150 participants. Registration will open in February 2020.