Office of the Provost

University Forums on Current Issues

The University Forum on Current Issues series is designed to engage the Pitt community in respectful and civil discussions about today’s most vital issues. Under the leadership of the Office of the Provost, each forum aims to incorporate a broad set of perspectives that will allow for a deeper understanding of challenging current affairs.

Past Forums

American Memorials in the 21st Century: A Monumental Mess?

Monday, November 20, 2017
Posvar Hall Provost Suites (Rooms 2500-2700)
3:45 – 5:00 PM

Can we reinterpret monuments … or do they speak for themselves? Are they an opportunity for learning about the past or enduring reminders of repression and hate? Join our panel of experts as they discuss controversy over public monuments and memorials. This program is open to the public.


  • Patricia E. Beeson, Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor

Q& A to be led by Deane Root, Professor and Chair of the Department of Music


  • Laurence Glasco, Associate Professor of History and Co-Author of Legacy in Bricks and Mortar: African-American Landmarks in Allegheny County
  • Andrew Masich, President & CEO, Senator John Heinz History Center
  • Kirk Savage, Professor of Art History and Architecture and Author of Monument Wars
  • Christel Temple, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Africana Studies

Hate Crimes and Their Prosecution in the United States Today

Monday, September 18, 2017

Hosted by the School of Law

Following the events in Charlottesville, it has become tragically clear that hate groups are on the rise, and hate crimes have become more prevalent in the United States. What are the causes of this? Can anything be done to stop it? And what are the limits posed in resisting organized hate groups and those who promote violence against and hatred of others, given the constitutional protections of free speech and freedom of association that extend to all of us? Our panel of experts include a sociologist, a law professor, an acting US Attorney, and a representative of the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights organization. Join us on Constitution Day 2017 for a rich discussion on these important matters. 

Learn more here.

Legislatures, Courts and Voting Rights: Developments Since the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder Decision

April 10, 2017

Hosted by the School of Law and the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs

What is the future of the Voting Rights Act, and how effective will it be in ensuring that every American continues to enjoy this most fundamental of rights in our democracy? Our group of illustrious and nationally known speakers will address these issues in this important colloquium.

Backlash: The Rise of Populism in Global Perspective

April 3, 2017

Hosted by the Global Studies Center and the Department of Political Science

The discussion will place recent popular upheavals (the US elections, Brexit, etc.) in transnational perspective. The panel will introduce rising populism briefly and address questions including: how rising economic inequality and frustration with reigning economic orthodoxy have fueled populist surges; why populism sometimes manifests as a right-wing and sometimes a left-wing phenomenon; why trust in political institutions and mainstream media has eroded and what role social media and alternative sources of news and information have played in facilitating populism; likely trajectories of this populist wave and its broader implications; and, the appropriate role of a university in responding to a populism driven in part by distrust of elites and suspicion of expertise.

Learn more and watch a recording of the event.

Truth or Consequences: Journalism’s Challenge in the Trump Era

March 30, 2017

Hosted by the University Honors College

Join journalists and experts for an in-depth discussion of the media, the news, and the First Amendment.

The event will take place 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. in the 7th Floor Auditorium of Alumni Hall.

Watch a recording of the panel here.

Repeal, Repair, or Replace? The Future of the ACA

March 16, 2017

Hosted by the Health Policy Institute

Join experts in health policy and law, health care delivery, and insurance markets for an in-depth, interactive discussion on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the emerging set of proposals to “repeal and replace” it. Following a presentation on the politics of ACA, insurance exchanges, and Medicare and Medicaid reforms, panelists will take questions and comments from the University community.

The Future of DACA and Immigration Law and Policy: A Discussion with Faculty and Senior University Leadership

Feb. 20, 2017

Hosted by the School of Law

This faculty-only program features a discussion about the University’s position on potential changes to federal law and policy on immigration and civil rights.

Teach-In on New Immigration & Trade Policies

Feb. 11, 2017

Hosted by the University Center for International Studies

The Teach-In on New Immigration & Trade Policies is an opportunity to explore and learn more about the historical context and implications of America’s new trade and immigration policies. Concurrent sessions will run each hour from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Topics include immigration law, international trade policy, refugee rights, modern Islam and societies, and political movements.

Learn more about the teach-in.

Russian Hacking: What Do We Know and How is This Different?

Feb. 2, 2017

Hosted by the School of Law

Before and after the U.S. presidential election, the subject of Russian hacking dominated the news in the United States and other Western countries. A diverse panel of experts was led by former U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton, head of the new University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security, and also included Russian investigative journalist and author Andrei Soldatov.

Watch the video from the event.

The Future of DACA and Immigration Law and Policy

January 18, 2017

Hosted by the School of Law

Panelists discussed immigration law and policy in the historical context of immigration law and policy in the United States over the past century. The discussion covered subjects such as the legal and constitutional implications of sanctuary cities; the banning of potential immigrants or foreign visitors on the basis of religion; and the creation of national registries on the basis of religion, national origin, and/or country of citizenship.

Watch the video from the event.