Journalist Isabel Wilkerson. Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani. Political writer George Will.
They are just a few examples of a long list of world renowned speakers who have each drawn hundreds to the University of Michigan-Flint for their talks at the popular and thought-provoking Frances Willson Thompson Critical Issues Forum luncheons.
But, like the rest of the speakers, they also appeared before a smaller crowd to start the day, at the forum's in-depth Sullenger Dialogues.
These discussions are free and open to the public, and held in smaller rooms.
"The morning sessions bring a smaller crowd compared to lunch, so that is an ideal time for back and forth discussion with the speaker," said School of Management Dean Scott Johnson, who moderated the Sullenger Dialogue with author Charles Duhigg.
Johnson said the discussions are a way for the community to get involved with the university and the exchange of ideas.
"It really is an opportunity. It is a gateway to welcome the community to the university," he said.
The morning sessions are named in tribute to Joanne Sullenger, who was a university employee and architect of the Critical Issues Forum.
The university has set this academic year's list of speakers. It includes author Jeff Hobbs (October 28), psychologist Angela Duckworth (November 18), journalist John Quiñones (March 23, 2016) and writer Matt Taibbi (April 4, 2016).
All Sullenger Dialogues will be held at 10 a.m. in the Harding Mott University Center Happenings Room.
Johnson said the events continue the tradition of getting to known well-known thinkers on a more personal level.
"Ultimately, I think the series shows that these speakers are people who have done interesting work, yet they are not larger than life. They are among us and are exchanging ideas with us," Johnson said.
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