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Fall Forum to bring Friedman to campus

Aaron Steiner | Tuesday, April 27, 2010

After a year’s hiatus, the Notre Dame Forum will return to campus this fall, focused on the economy, human development and the role of ethics in rebuilding the global marketplace, the University announced Monday.

Prominent New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has been confirmed as one of the guest speakers.

The 2010 Forum is titled “The Global Marketplace and the Common Good” and is scheduled for Nov. 3. According to a press release, the Forum will examine “the inherent demand for an essential moral framework in the quest for human development.”

University President Fr. John Jenkins said in a statement that the Forum comes after the world was “shaken” by the current economic crisis.

Jenkins said the Forum will “create a year-long discussion on the role of ethics, values and morals in the rebuilding and reshaping of the global economy.”

Jenkins referenced Pope Benedict XVI’s most recent encyclical, “Caritas in Veritate,” which discusses global development and economics.

“Pope Benedict issued a reminder [in his encyclical] that ‘the economy needs ethics in order to function correctly — not ethics whatsoever, but an ethics which is people-centered,'” Jenkins said in the statement.

“That encyclical comes out of a long tradition of the Church’s social teaching which asks us to reflect on the moral dimensions of individual and collective economic choices, and evaluate them with regard to their contribution to justice and the common good.”

The annual Forum, which was launched in 2005, was not held this past year. University spokesman Dennis Brown first told The Observer last September the Forum would be delayed until the spring semester, and then administrators announced in January a scheduling conflict with a major speaker caused the planned Forum to be canceled.

University spokesman Dennis Brown said Monday the topic announced for the 2010 Forum was not the one planned for the past year.

Next fall’s Forum will be the fifth at the University. Past Forum topics have included sustainability, global health and immigration.

According to the press release, the Forum topic was decided after discussion with the Dean’s Council. A working committee comprised of faculty, students and administrators will be formed and charged with planning the 2010 event, the release said.

Friedman will be one of a number of notable guests to be featured at a Notre Dame Forum. Past speakers include GE Chief Executive Officer Jeff Immelt, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, economist Jeffrey Sachs, Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles and others.

Friedman is a Pulitzer prize-winning columnist and author of several bestsellers, including “The World Is Flat,” and most recently “Hot, Flat and Crowded.” As a writer and media commentator, Friedman has examined a variety of topics, including globalization and economic issues, religious fundamentalism and terrorism and conflict in the Middle East.