Hot Topics Café

HTC Column

Past Hot Topics Cafés.
Read an article about the Hot Topics Café on the AZ Daily Sun.
PPI’s Hot Topics Cafés are public forums for civic and philosophical discourse. Philosopher-facilitators come prepared with questions and background information on a topic of community concern. Questions are framed to yield careful reflection and to allow for reasonable disagreement from multiple perspectives. A successful discussion need not achieve consensus, resolve problems, or chart a course for action. Instead, facilitators guide the discussions toward issues of central importance and away from pitfalls in reasoning, while remaining officially neutral on which position one should take on the central issues. Community members are encouraged to share their views, explain their reasons, and charitably listen to the views and reasons of others.

View our informational handouts and community discussion summaries from past hot topics cafés.

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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.

  1. Faculty facilitators lay the ground rules for the conversations, explaining the importance of compassion in speaking and listening to others.
  2. Student interns will provide the factual background on the issue in question, making complicated topics accessible.
  3. 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.
  4. A recorder reports on the variety of viewpoints that were heard at the event.

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Hot Topics Café is made possible by the Arizona Humanities, the McKenzie Endowment for Democracy, and the SBS Compassion Project.