Open Dialogue

The impact of social media in American society. The growing acceptance of gay people. The global effects of the “Arab Spring.” The overlooked consequences of poverty in the US. The future of public education.

To paraphrase a popular bumper sticker, if you are not interested in at least one of these topics, then you are not paying attention. They are among the crucial issues taken up during the first two years of CNN Dialogues, a series of public discussions that has rapidly gained credence and acclaim for adding a thoughtful new voice to the national conversation.

“CNN Dialogues has had an important influence on the Emory community as well as the broader Atlanta community,” says Tyrone Forman, director of the James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference at Emory. “It has helped students, faculty, and local residents develop a nuanced understanding of the challenges confronting our nation. And it has inspired a renewed commitment to help solve the complex challenges in our community.”

CNN Dialogues is a partnership among CNN, the Johnson Institute, and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. Launched in August 2011, the program was one of the many dreams of the late Rudolph P. Byrd, founding director of the Johnson Institute and Goodrich C. White Professor of American Studies. Supported initially with a $400,000 gift from CNN, the program has offered seven events at Atlanta venues, hosted by CNN anchors with panels including scholars, journalists, activists, executives, and experts from around the world.

Doug Shipman 95C, CEO of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, says, “The partnership is quite unique in that it brings together an NGO, a university, and a major news network, allowing it to touch diverse audiences and bring together different types of expertise.”

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