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The Panel Discussion

The Panel Discussion is a plenary activity. We might aim to schedule 3-4 panel discussions in a one week short course. Each discussion should run from 60-90 minutes.

The purpose of the Panel Discussion is to explore a controversial, uncertain or contested topic from a range of different perspectives. It is a response to participants' comments that the lecture genre gives precedence to the lecturer and the particular story that he or she is telling. The lecture format limits debate and the exploration of different perspectives (even when we know that some of our number disagree with the lecturer!).

We appoint a Panel Discussion Coordinator from among the faculty.

We collect a number of possible topics for panel discussions in advance (and throughout the course as controversies arise). We have previously asked participants to submit possible topics in writing to the Panel Discussion Coordinator. However, after Savar we think that it might be better to have a dedicated notice board available throughout the course on which we can describe the Panel Discussions and on which participants can post their suggested topics.

The Panel Discussion Coordinator recruits 3-4 panel members for each discussion. These should be people with different perspectives all of which will be interesting and useful but which probably don't align completely. They should have some depth of knowledge and experience to draw on in responding to the (sometimes very challenging) questions. The coordinator gives each panelist an opportunity to respond to the question and then opens the floor for discussion.

Participants will need to exercise discipline so that there is airtime for strong audience participation as well panel commentary.

We might expect to get through 3-4 topics in one hour.

Previous topics include:

  • NGO participation in service delivery is a form of privatisation of service delivery;
  • The MDGs are a hoax; discuss!
  • What is wrong with the WTO?