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TCU 360

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Campus group joins local churches for discussion group

After low-campus turnouts at last year’s Great Decisions Discussions, the program has been moved to local churches.The Center for Civic Literacy is teaming with community congregations to sponsor opportunities to discuss political issues through the Great Decisions Discussions program. Students and community members are invited to the programs where experts, usually TCU professors, will lead the discussions.

This is the second year TCU has been involved in the program, said Eric Cox, assistant professor and associate director for the Center of Civic Literacy.

“What we decided this year was to approach local congregations who have active outreach programs in an attempt to make use of their ready-made audience, as well as any audience we have of people here at TCU,” Cox said. “They will be able to advertise to their congregations, and we’ll advertise to TCU people and hopefully come up with something big.”

The program was started by the Foreign Policy Association, a “nonprofit organization that seeks to educate the public about foreign policy,” according to its Web site. Each year, it releases a briefing book with eight topics that it encourages people to sponsor discussions on, Cox said.

St. Stephen Presbyterian Church and Temple Beth-El are each hosting two of the discussion programs and the Center for Civic Literacy is working on adding four more programs at two other local churches, Cox said.

The first Great Decisions Discussion will take place at St. Stephen Presbyterian Church on Feb. 20 at 7 p.m. The congregation chose to discuss the topic of war crimes.

“We are hosting this event so that this intellectual series might be available to our neighbors, TCU, our congregation and anyone who is interested in understanding this issue,” said Beth Fultz, director of Christian education at St. Stephen.

At each event, the speakers will discuss the topic for about 30 minutes to 45 minutes, then a question-and-answer or general discussion time will follow, Cox said.

Alison Lewis, a sophomore political science major, said she thinks teaming with community members in this program will be beneficial for students.

“Different perspectives allow students to ask more questions and think for themselves rather than instantly believe what is fed to them in college,” Lewis said.

Cox believes it is important to get people from different backgrounds together and talking about difficult topics.

“It’s good for the TCU students, it’s good for the community, and hopefully, if students are positive contributors to these conversations at all, it also helps TCU’s image in the

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