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Friedman to address recent book at Forum’s signature event

Molly Madden | Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and New York Times columnist Tom Friedman will speak tonight about the global economy’s relationship to the common good at the Notre Dame Forum’s signature event.

The event, which features a lecture given by Friedman about issues he addressed in his most recent book “Hot, Flat, and Crowded,” has been highly anticipated by students and others involved in this year’s Forum.


“We’ve had a lot of positive feedback,” said senior Shanna Gast, a member of the working committee for the Forum and a panelist at tonight’s event. “The tickets for the Forum event with Friedman sold out in an hour and fifteen minutes so it’s clear students are looking forward to what’s to come.”


A roundtable discussion will follow Friedman’s talk and will feature Dr. Carolyn Woo, the Martin J. Gillen Dean of the Mendoza College of Business, Gary Anderson, Hesburgh Professor of Catholic Theology and Gast. Andrea Mitchell, Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent for NBC News, will moderate the discussion.


“The panel is there to ask more informed questions and to probe a bit more into what Friedman will talk about,” Gast said.


Friedman was selected as the speaker for this year’s signature event because of his writings on the marketplace and his critique of certain economic practices.


“Friedman is very vocal on topics of globalization, income gaps and issues that arise when discussing the common good,” Gast said. “He brings a more informed perspective to the topic and he’s a really big name which brings more awareness.”


Other students who have been involved in the development of the Forum throughout the year hope Friedman’s lecture and the issues he addresses will resonate with students.


“I hope that students will be able to take away concrete, realistic ways that we can be more responsible as global citizens,” said junior Shannon Crotty, a member of the working committee for the Forum.


Since one of the main goals of the Forum was to facilitate discussion among as many students as possible, Forum committee members ensured that students who did not secure a ticket to the signature event this evening would still have a chance to participate in the conversation.


“Anyone not able to get tickets can watch the event broadcast on Channel 13, the TVs in LaFortune or in the Jordan Auditorium of Mendoza,” Crotty said. “Hopefully, this will allow for more people to become engaged in the discussions following the event.”


Friedman’s lecture may be the signature event of this year’s Forum, but committee members and University professors who participated in the Forum’s satellite events that were held over the past two months, believe that the issues addressed at these panels helped prepare the audience for the topics Friedman will discuss.


“I’m really happy with how the Forum has developed so far,” Crotty said. “The new Forum format, with multiple events and opportunities for discussions rather than just one larger event, definitely allows for more students and faculty to become engaged with the forum topic.”


University professors who participated in the satellite events agreed with Crotty’s sentiment and said the smaller events allowed more students to actively participate in the Forum.


“I think the Forum events have been excellent and have done a much better job at engaging the students,” said Peter Kilpatrick, dean of Engineering and a panelist in the Oct. 12 Technology: Boon or Bane Forum satellite event. “If you don’t prepare for the [Friedman] Forum event well, it will be more entertainment for the students than academic.”


Professor Harindra Fernando, a panelist in the same event as Kilpatrick, said the satellite events allowed students to hear a variety of viewpoints concerning complicated issues, which is something that the previous Forum format did not always allow.


“Me and my colleagues on the panel had different ways of approaching the issue at hand,” Fernando said. “It’s good to come from different angles and viewpoints because the issue is complex that stretches across social and technological arenas.”


Crotty said she feels like the satellite events served their purpose in preparing students for the Friedman lecture tonight, and the additional panels added more substance to the theme of the Forum.


“To me, one of the greatest things about the Forum topic of ‘The Global Marketplace and the Common Good’ is that it can be approached from a number of stances,” she said. “The panels and discussions from the perspectives of business and legal professionals, engineering experts and political and theological commentators have definitely addressed the issue comprehensively.”


Forum organizers and participants said they feel they have adequately addressed many of the questions that arise when discussing the marketplace and the common good, but it is ultimately up to the students to take the information the Forum provides and apply it to their lives.


“One of the main points we’re hoping students get out of the Forum is to ask themselves why these topics matter to them as students,” Gast said. “I hope it sheds light on mundane, everyday action that can affect the common good.”