UK to host civil discussion lecture

By Jarrod Thacker

UK students will have the opportunity to observe a civic discussion on Thursday involving Jim Leach, the chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Leach has been traveling the country on a two-year civil discourse tour in which he discusses American civility, and will speak at UK with students about how to improve civic education in Kentucky.

The dialogue begins with an introductory roundtable discussion of the Henry Clay-Sandra Day O’Connor Civic Education Act for Kentucky. It will be followed directly with Leach’s conversation with students at 3:45 p.m.

Student representatives from Tates Creek High School’s International Baccalaureate program, the eighth grade social studies class of Christ the King School and students from Fall 2010 freshman Discovery Seminar Program course, “Citizen Kentucky: Journalism and Democracy,” will be in attendance to share their viewpoints with Leach.

Lindsey Austin, a journalism freshman and a member of the DSP study, played a large role in the planning of the forum, and will host the conversation with the chairman.

“I’ve loved working with the kids. That’s probably been my favorite part so far and I’m really excited to hear what they have to say next Thursday and how the Chairman will respond,” Austin said. “I know they’ll be great.”

Buck Ryan, the director of the Citizen Kentucky Project of UK’s Scripps Howard Foundation, has collaborated with the Kentucky Humanities Council and the Kentucky Advocates for Civic Education to arrange the discussion, and was able to obtain seven co-sponsors from UK.

“We are especially happy with the event at the Niles Gallery organized by Lindsey Austin,” said Virginia Carter, the executive director of Kentucky Humanities Council, Inc. “Chairman Leach looks forward to an opportunity to learn about the Henry Clay-Sandra Day O’Connor bill, and then respond to student questions regarding their effort.”

At the event, food will be provided preliminarily in addition to music by Laurel Fugal.

“If anyone is at all interested in civic education or civic discourse, this event will be a great event to attend and an even better opportunity to network with some pretty influential people in that realm,” Austin said.

Kentucky Secretary of State Elaine Walker will be one of the civic leaders who will be in attendance. She recently bestowed Lindsey Austin and Gary Hermann, a journalism freshman, with the title of Kentucky Colonel and gave the other students Commonwealth Ambassador distinctions.

For those interested but unable to attend, the discussion will also be part of a live webcast for Wildcat Student Television.

The discussion is Thursday, April 7 at 3 p.m. in the Niles Gallery of the Fine Arts Library. It is free and open to the public.