Local forum cosponsored by AU to help pave way for talks between citizens of the United States and Russia

AUBURN – A public forum cosponsored by Auburn University titled “Ethnic Tensions in the United States: How Can We Live and Work Together?” will be held Monday, April 21, at 6:30 p.m., at the Fellowship Hall of Auburn First Baptist Church.

In this deliberative forum, participants will have the opportunity to evaluate three basic approaches to addressing the issue of ethnic tensions on the basis of the attractions, concerns, costs, consequences and trade-offs of each. The three approaches are to integrate and fight discrimination, to combat economic inequality to achieve fairness and to address the past.

The forum in Auburn will be one of only 12 community forums conducted around the United States in preparation for the New Dartmouth Conference sessions between the United States and Russia later this year. Counterparts in Russia will conduct forums on the same subject simultaneously with those in the United States, and the comparative results of these forums will form a framework for discussions at the New Dartmouth Conference.

The Dartmouth Conferences grew out of the collapse of a planned summit between the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics because of the U-2 spy plane incident in 1960. President Dwight D. Eisenhower asked Norman Cousins, then editor of the Saturday Review and a trustee of the Kettering Foundation in Dayton, Ohio, to develop citizen-to-citizen conversations with the U.S.S.R. since, under the circumstances, the governments were unable to continue bilateral discussions.

The conferences have continued since the fall of the Soviet Union, with the current international situation with Russia calling renewed attention to them. David Mathews, a native of Grove Hill, Ala., is currently president and chief executive officer of the Kettering Foundation. He and the foundation have been central to the Dartmouth Conferences for more than 25 years.

The forum is jointly sponsored by the Caroline Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts and Humanities in the College of Liberal Arts at Auburn University and the David Mathews Center for Civic Life.

The Mathews Center, an educational, non-advocacy 501(c)(3), was asked by the Kettering Foundation to be one of 12 sites around the nation to convene, conduct and report on community forums regarding racial and ethnic tensions.

The Draughon Center, a frequent partner with the Mathews Center in fostering community decision making, is the dedicated outreach office of the AU College of Liberal Arts.

The Dartmouth Conference is the longest continuous bilateral dialogue among citizens of the Soviet Union, now Russia, and the United States, having first met in 1960 at Dartmouth College. This year’s meeting of the “New” Dartmouth Conference is the first experiment in building a sustained dialogue among those citizens in the two countries who have deliberated on the conduct of the Russian-U.S. relationship, which will be central, as Russia regains its status as a major power, in building a peaceful world.

The forum is open to the public but limited to 40 participants. Call the Draughon Center at (334) 844-4946 or e-mail mwilson@auburn.edu for more information and to reserve your place.

Contact: Mark Wilson, (334) 844-4948 (wilsom3@auburn.edu), or
Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (clardch@auburn.edu)