Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College, in conjunction with the Oklahoma Humanities Council and Chapters, will host the discussion series ‘Humanities Forum.’

The three forum discussions that make up this series will encourage conversations on contemporary issues. Topics will include the impact of advertising on our society, the accessibility of news from the media and the separation of church and state.

“Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College looks forward to teaming with the Oklahoma Humanities Council and Chapters to bring Ottawa County residents an opportunity to exchange ideas and perspectives,” said Dr. Jeffery Hale, NEO president. “The goal of this forum is for its participants to generate a clearer understanding of each other and the issues faced by our society.”

The Humanities Forum began as a pilot project in Oklahoma City in the summer of 2009, said Ann Neal, Miami resident and vice chair of the OHC Board. The response was so great that the program was repeated in the fall.

“‘Humanities Forum’ gives participants an opportunity to talk about current issues and hear first-hand what their neighbors think,” said Neal. “It’s a welcoming atmosphere where people can express opinions, brainstorm new ideas and walk away with a more informed perspective. We’re very excited about this model for discussion and how it engages people with their community.”

The forum discussions will begin at 6:30 p.m. at Chapters, located at 31 N. Main in Miami, on Jan. 28, Feb. 4 and Feb. 11. There is no cost to attend; refreshments will be served.

Moderated by an NEO instructor, the forums will follow a format that will ensure that all ideas and opinions are treated with respect and equal consideration. Moderators will include Donna Hale, first lady of NEO and adjunct nutrition instructor; David Froman, theatre instructor; and Art Whaley, mass communications instructor.

Whaley will kick-off the forum on Jan. 28 by leading participants in a discussion about the effects of television and Internet news on life and public policy. Emphasis will be given on how the public’s thirst for quick information in the Internet age has impacted current events and news reporting. Whaley’s discussion will also examine whether news agencies have become more political and less objective in their coverage.

Feb. 4, Hale will lead a discussion on the history of advertising and how the media shapes society. Hale said research has shown that American consumers of all ages rely heavily on advertising. As society has evolved, so has its method of advertising. Hale’s forum discussion will address how the media has contributed to consumer choices throughout the decades; whether the changes in advertising and media-use have affected society mentally, socially and physically, and if the changes in the media are a result of consumer needs changing or if the media itself has directed these changes for society.

Froman’s Feb. 11 forum will focus upon the Bill of Rights and the separation of church and state. Those who participate will examine the initial interpretation of the Bill of Rights established during the Jefferson Administration and the nine Supreme Court cases that have challenged it. Each case will be briefly reviewed and a discussion will follow.

These programs are funded in part by the Oklahoma Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed during them do not necessarily represent those of NEO, Chapters, OHC or NEH.

The mission of the OHC is to promote meaningful public engagement with the humanities. The OHC understands that much is to be learned from history, literature, philosophy and art that is relevant today, said Ann Thompson, executive director of OHC. There is a critical necessity for people to learn, understand, think, communicate and make connections with others.

“In a world so complex that it daily becomes more challenging to understand, it is imperative for us all to be informed and recognize our place and importance within the larger picture,” said Thompson.

Those with questions regarding any of the forums may contact Christen Stark, NEO director of public relations and marketing, at (918) 540-6211.