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'Public Talks' coming to a college library near you

A new initiative called Public Talks asks supporters to post a brief manifesto on the door of every college library.

Founded by a former rock-concert promoter and sailing instructor named John Connolly, Public Talks is a Web-based project with a fairly ambitious goal: to change the way political adversaries settle their differences.

The idea, I think, is to encourage the solution of political conflicts in public, with the participation of a worldwide audience, instead of secret, closed-door negotiations. An e-mail this morning tells me that 32 colleges and universities on six continents are participating by posting a summary of the project on their library doors.

Local participants are said to include American University and the University of Maryland.

The general idea is to use the waxing influence of global public opinion to bring just resolutions to political conflicts.

From the Web site: "A few potential examples of political conflicts where Public Talks could be used include NATO-Eastern Europe, Shia-Sunni in Iraq, Russia-Georgia, Iran-U.S./European allies, India-Pakistan, Israel-Palestinians, Ethiopia-Eritrea, Serbia-Kosovo/Albania, Turkey-Kurds, Spain-Basque Separatists."

I have no sense how many of these documents have been posted on library doors, or how many students have read them. This, perhaps, is the first test of whether the public is interested in Public Talks.

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By Daniel de Vise  | October 6, 2010; 12:07 PM ET
Categories:  Public policy  | Tags:  Public Talks, Public Talks document on library doors, public dialogue initiative  
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