On Friday, Sept. 20, the Philosophy and Religious Studies Club held their first Eat, Drink & Think event of the semester downtown at the V2 Wine Bar.
Students and faculty alike participated in a spirited discussion — with plenty of food — led by Alan Tomhave, an Assistant Professor in the Department and specialist in Political Philosophy. During “Just War and Syria,” attendees spent their time engaged in an encompassing conversation on the civil war in Syria and the ethical implications that American or international intervention would have.
Nadia Costick, a respiratory therapy major at YSU, said she had never attended an Eat, Drink & Think event in the past and explained she was impressed by the proceedings.
“The event was very well organized and the discussion was extremely productive and orderly. Everyone contributed to the discussion and it was non-stop,” Costick said. “Everyone had something interesting to say and by having people from all different walks of life attend, I feel like I learned things I might have never been able to outside of the event.”
Eat, Drink & Think is an all-inclusive gathering, and any student with an interest in topical discussion can join. Professors from all fields of study are also encouraged to attend. Guest discussion moderators from a wide variety of fields such as Biology, Anthropology, and Geology have led the talks in the past.
Tomhave kicked off last week’s event by summarizing the Just War Theory and explaining circumstances in Syria. The group’s discussions are led by a single professor or expert who serves as a moderator. The moderator introduces and guides the topic, but does not control conversation.
“Typically, whoever is leading the discussion will give some background concepts to help frame the discussion, maybe give some examples and then sort of let the discussion evolve on its own,” Tomhave said. “I’m much more interested, personally, in getting the people that had shown up to discuss it, talking about it. As long as they aren’t going too far afield, then I’m going to let the discussion go.”
Students have been gathering for Eat, Drink & Think for over 5 years now to discuss a spectrum of issues. Students in the Philosophy and Religious Studies Department started these discussions in 2007. With some funding by the Philosophy and Religious Studies Department’s class fees and help from several faculty members, dedicated students put together the event once every month downtown with ample space and ample food.
“It was a proposal by a bunch of students in our department who were majors, and they came up with the idea for the event; they even came up with the title for the event,” Mower said. “It’s a student event. It’s run by students for students.”
As part of their emphasis on inclusion, YSU students and community members can also be involved in what the group talks about. Each year, the club has a meeting where they collect and archive possible topics from anyone who wishes to submit them. Interested parties can even continue to submit possible topics via e-mail anytime throughout the year.
“It is kind of an interesting model: the topics are proposed by students and community members and then faculty members and the student leaders of the student club pick the topics,” said Deborah Mower, associate professor of the Philosophy and Religious Studies Department and the faculty adviser for the club.
The club then modifies topics in an attempt to enliven conversation by relating larger concepts and theories, such as the Just War Theory, to hot button or monumental issues happening near the time of the meeting.