Hot Topics Café
Hot Topics Café is a program that creates a forum for civil discourse about matters of significance to our communities. Unbiased information sheets present arguments on competing sides of a question, and give legislative histories or other relevant factual data. Members of the community are then invited to voice their views on the topic. Participants learn about the issues, and about alternative viewpoints in the community. Hot Topics Café is non partisan, and we do not endorse a position with respect to any issue discussed. We do not aim to achieve consensus or resolve issues, and this is one of the things that makes Hot Topics Cafés unique among programs designed to foster civil discourse.
View our informational handouts and community discussion summaries from past hot topics cafés.
Hot Topics Café Model
In the Hot Topics Cafés, discussions are facilitated by philosophers who encourage diverse views, yet point out fallacious reasoning or other logical problems that may arise. A social psychologist is present to talk about the role of compassion in the conversation, and to intervene if there is a lack of civility. Hot Topics Café is a joint project between NAU’s Compassion Project and Philosophy in the Public Interest.
- Faculty facilitators lay the ground rules for the conversations, explaining the importance of compassion in speaking and listening to others.
- Student interns will provide the factual background on the issue in question making complicated topics accessible.
- Faculty facilitate a public conversation that welcomes a variety of viewpoints. Facilitators also identify fallacies and make helpful distinctions, such as pointing out the difference between a moral concern and a legal concern.
- A recorder reports on the variety of viewpoints that were heard at the event.