Issues in the Public Square 2019

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
  • 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 Shaping Sustainable Living: Research-Driven Change.  We view this theme as an extension of Challenge Week 2018: Breaking the Chains—A Critical Examination of the Global Supply Chain, a Schedler Honors College-sponsored event held in the fall.  We explored the human and environmental consequences of our global economy by unpacking the relationship between consumer goods and the well-being of people and places around the world.

Through interactions with guest speakers, we started to gain insight into a key question: what is being done by activists, governments, academics, consumers, and engaged citizens to shape our global supply chains with the goal of ensuring long-term, sustainable, human and environmental health and well-being? Issues in the Public Square 2019—Shaping Sustainable Living—continues this conversation.

Our keynote speaker is Dr. Timothy Pearson, Director of Ecosystem Services at Winrock International, whose work concerns the environmental consequences of the first link in our global supply chains—resource extraction—and, more specifically, the greenhouse gas emissions produced by agriculture and forestry. In over 100 collaborative projects, Dr. Pearson has helped create innovative ways to measure and monitor these emissions using technologies such as remote sensing. These projects have increased our understanding of the extent of these emissions (a quarter of human-generated greenhouse gases) and their point-of-origin (typically disadvantaged, rural communities), and directly contributed to the development of policies, laws, and practices that will reduce these emissions. Dr. Pearson is also part of a larger conversation about balancing the tension between our need, and desire for, raw materials and economic development on the one hand, and addressing climate change on the other, through carbon swaps or carbon-neutral accounting. Click here for a sample of his work.


We are also honored to have Revered Michael O. Minor join us for a morning plenary talk that will serve as an opening address for the day. Dr. Minor is head of the Oak Hill Baptist Church in Hernando, Mississippi and community organizer whose work focuses on the consumer end of our global supply chain; more specifically, our interactions with food and, ultimately, our physical health. He received national attention for banning fried chicken at his church, but the depth of his activism is deep.  He has actively reshaped his community’s food supply chain by establishing garden programs at local churches, minimizing the waste of healthy food by distributing to those in need, and fighting to get Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits accepted at farmers markets. Dr. Minor combines his on-the-ground experience with research in order to advise a wide variety of initiatives such as the American Cancer Society’s National Advisory Council on Health Equity and the Food and Health Equity National Working Group.

How to Participate

Though presentations are limited to participants in the Schedler Honors College and University Scholars Program, the event is open to the campus and regional community.

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. 

To submit a proposal, you must:

  • be a member of the Schedler Honors College or University Scholars Program;
  • 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); and
  • submit a title and 200-400 word abstract in the the Honors portal log-in by the deadline of 11:59 p.m. on Monday, March 11. Note: Honors College sophomores will click on the Sophomore Lecture tab and all others will use the Issues in the Public Square tab.

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 2019.