N.Y. Times Prompts Cultural Discussion — and Buys Lunch
By Zane Ewton
The GCU Sociology Club and ASGCU Multicultural Director Matt Muchna this week hosted the first of what is expected to become a monthly event: “Wednesdays With the Times.”
The forum on current events is sponsored by the New York Times as a way to get college students talking about what’s going on in the world. Free distribution of the Times began on campus this fall.
A dozen students and a few Christian studies instructors met in COE 102 for the hourlong discussion. Muchna prepared a short multimedia presentation to prime the group for a discussion concerning the Arab Spring and Middle Eastern politics.
Talk started there but ventured into Russian elections, the Occupy movement, Saudi Arabia nuclear arms and the powerful photo on Wednesday’s Times of the aftermath of a suicide bombing at a religious ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Timothy Larkin, a professor of Christian worldview at GCU, sat in as a faculty adviser but found himself biting his tongue to make sure the discussion was student-led.
Larkin is excited about the learning opportunity for students.
“Our students don’t talk to each other — they tweet,” Larkin says. “To have an arena like this where students have to spend an hour talking will give them a sense of how to communicate.”
Larkin sees an opportunity to turn students into global citizens by putting the responsibility on them to know and understand what is happening in the world.
Muchna agrees that such discussions will only help prepare students for the real world.
“The point is to get out of the classroom setting and to spark discussion among students,” he says. “It’s important for this to be student-led, because it’s our education and we have to go out into the world after graduation.”
Senior Artem Tretiakov added a unique perspective to the discussion as the lone international student in attendance. The Ukraine-born Tretiakov is a member of GCU’s swim team and feels compelled to keep up with current events back home and throughout Europe.
“I feel it is my duty as a citizen of this planet to talk about what’s going on in the world,” he says. “We need to know and understand today’s situations, and our own history, to be able to find the best ways to lead tomorrow.”
Muchna spearheaded the partnership with the Times that has made the paper available to students at various distribution points. The Times provides support and resources — and even bought lunch.
Muchna hopes to let different clubs on campus lead the monthly discussion, on various topics. The event will returns on the last Wednesday in January and will continue through the remainder of the spring semester.
Contact Zane Ewton at 639.7086 or [email protected].