Conversation on Immigration

The Center for Ethics and Human Values has developed a biennial series of yearlong conversations called Conversations on Morality, Politics, and Society (COMPAS). The purpose of this series is to establish a new, more expansive model for a university ethics center, to enrich the research of scholars and the education of students at Ohio State, and to demonstrate the value of the university as a model of civil, informed discourse.

With Congress debating immigrant rights and people occupying the streets, it’s easy to get lost in sound bytes. Immigration’s importance to the political and economic landscape of this country cannot be overstated; and yet, public discourse on the topic rarely reflects the complexities and contradictions surrounding the noise and controversy.

Ohio State’s Center for Ethics and Human Values is hoping to change the tone of the debate by launching Conversation on Immigration, a year-long series of meaningful and productive discussions on migration and immigration with people across the university and those in the wider community. Don Hubin, professor and chair of philosophy, is the leader of the group behind the initiative.

“Immigration’s importance as a social issue is rivaled only by its complexity,” said Hubin. “However, too often we get only simplistic slogans rooted in poor information and shallow reasoning, expressed with incivility. This yearlong conversation presents a rare opportunity for people to come together for civil discussions on an issue of vital social importance that impacts all of us.”

President Gee called on Ohio State to be a leader in civil discourse in his semiannual speech to faculty in May 2010.

“As educated women and men, it is incumbent upon us to foster a common conversation, to counter ignorance with simplicity and reason,” said President Gee. "Democracy by sound byte will not move us forward as a nation."

Hubin believes the initiative will allow Ohio State to emerge as a leader in national and international dialogues on issues of vital social importance. “The great thing about having this conversation at Ohio State is the breadth of knowledge and creativity found here. This is a subject that can be examined from almost any angle you could think of.”

Conversation on Immigration will reach across all academic disciplines and will include an autumn and spring conference, six colloquia, and two related undergraduate courses. First-year students got involved through their summer book assignment, Outcasts United.

For a comprehensive list of news and events and to sign up for the Conversation on Immigration newsletter, visit