Libraries have often been meeting places where the citizenry meet to discuss ideas. At some point in your career you may be asked to organize a panel discussion.

In this assignment you will form a small group which will then plan and execute a panel discussion on one of the topics listed below. Your group will become the "experts" on the topic to be explored, deciding on the class reading and the questions to be discussed. You will be the discussion leaders on the day of your discussion.


Step One: Form a group

This is a group assignment. You will need to form a group of two or three people.

Step Two: Select a Topic

As a group select one of the topics listed below. If there is another topic you think is pertinent to the course and the members of the group would like to pursue it, you may suggest the topic to the instructor.

Let the instructor know which topic you have selected.

Step Three: Research Your Topic

Once you have decided upon a topic the group will then research the topic selected. Who are the key players? What are the issues and arguments?

Step Four: Select a Reading for the Class

In order to prepare the class for the discussion, select a scholarly article of reasonable length for the class to read. If the article is available electronically give the class the citation data and how to access the article. For example, if you accessed the article through Lexis Nexis then let the class know this, along with the name of the author, the title of the article, and the journal in which the article was published. If the article is not available electronically then you will need to get a print copy to the instructor at least 3 weeks before the discussion session in order for the instructor to make copies available to the class.

Step Five: Formulate Questions for the Class to Consider

In order to elicit thoughtful responses, draw up a list of questions you would like the students to consider before the class discussion. Send these to the class via e-mail using the course listserv:

Step Six: Plan Your Panel Discussion

Decide among you how you will approach the discussion session. There should be an introduction to the topic. If one is available you may include a short video as part of your introduction. The video should not be longer than 7 or 8 minutes.

You might wish to divide up various subtopics among you so that questions from the audience can be directed to particular individuals. Every member of the group should speak at least once during the session.

Step Seven: Lead the Discussion on Your Discussion Day

You will have 1.5 hours for your discussion. Make sure that all sides of the debate are aired. Try to get the audience to participate as much as possible.

Step Eight: Prepare a Short Summary of Your Experiences

After your discussion day reflect upon your experience. As a group, write a short synopsis of your findings, the questions addressed, and any consensus you feel was reached by the class. Include your reflections on how the discussion went. Was there full participation? Did you feel that your preparations resulted in a satisfying experience for you as presenters as well as your audience? Hand in this summary on the Wednesday following your presentation.


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