Clare Myers, Contributing Writer
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is bringing the popular radio program “The Public Philosopher,” to Lynch Auditorium on Sunday, Oct. 7, at 2 p.m. The international radio show, which takes the format of a discussion, will focus on immigration in America. The UD episode is part of a larger series, “an in-depth and informed program that helps … the world to understand the ideas that are at work” in contemporary life, said Mukul Devichand, a London-based senior producer at BBC Radio Current Affairs.
According to Devichand, a major part of the success of the show depends on its host, Michael Sandel, a political philosopher who teaches at Harvard University. His class, simply titled “Justice,” is one of the most popular courses in the history of the institution. It examines the moral implications of some of today’s most controversial issues. Episodes of his lectures, available online, address such questions as whether universities should give preference to low-income students and whether it is ethical to bribe people to adopt healthier lifestyles.
Sandel, who has been called “a rock star of political philosophy,” will moderate the immigration dialogue at UD.
The event is open to students, faculty and members of the community; Sandel’s “unique approach … lets the opinions of the audience guide the discussion,” said Devichand. Steve McDowell, a student liaison for the event, believes the combination of the university’s academic character and the flavor of the surrounding area will provide for “an interesting mix of opinion.”
UD’s location in Texas makes it an ideal location for a debate on immigration and the controversial Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.
“They wanted [to hold the discussion] somewhere the program would be particularly relevant,” said Renee Davis, another student liaison.
A similar series was recorded in April at the London School of Economics and Political Science; however, Devichand says that for this program, the BBC did not want to broadcast from a city like Boston or Washington, D.C., but instead try somewhere a bit more unexpected.
Presenting the opinions of people from all over the country is critical to the diversity of the dialogue, especially because the series capitalizes on the audience’s interest in polarizing topics in light of the upcoming election.
“Texas is a really important part of the United States,” he explained. “But it doesn’t get as much international coverage [as cities such as New York or Washington, D.C. do].”
Because the program is international, producers wanted to choose a locale that listeners would recognize, said Davis: “Everyone knows where Dallas is.”
According to Devichand, many people suggested UD as a university where students would truly engage in a thought-provoking conversation. The discussion promises to be a fascinating and pertinent one, addressing many aspects of the issue, from constitutionality to justice.
“I’m hoping very much that the students get a lot out of this,” he said.
Admission to the event is free, but students must fill out an application on the school website at udallas.edu/bbc. Anyone interested should apply for admission, Davis says.
“We’re hoping to have a strong UD showing,” she said. “We’re hoping that we’re over capacity.”