Last night, I participated in a panel discussion of global issues entitled "What's Wrong with the World Today?" as a part of Rhodes College's "Think Globally, Act Locally" week. My co-panelists were two colleagues of mine, one from Economics and one from International Studies. It was a lively and productive discussion, I think, and I learned a great deal both from my colleagues and from the Q&A session. If you're curious, my answer to the question was (not surprisingly) "human rights violations," the economist's answer was "poverty," and the International Studies prof's answer was "a lot of things." (Her overarching point was that global issues are always complex and interrelated, and should not be thought of in isolation.) One of the best things about last night's panel was that there was real and significant ideological differences between the panelists-- something that I don't think is represented enough in panel discussions like these. Too often, in my experience, these events bring together a series of speakers who mostly agree with one another, and then recruit an audience that basically serves as a "choir" to whom the speakers preach. Not so last night. There were real disagreements, which (if engaged with both candor and care) can be truly enlightening experiences.
So, what I would add to my list of "things that are wrong with the world today" is this: not enough panels like the one we had last night!