It is “Charting a Sustainable Energy Future,” a subject that
implicates a host of timely and difficult issues, including climate change
and the condition of the environment, the costs and benefits of economic
development, the fairness of wealth and income distribution, and the
appropriate roles of nations and individuals in creating such a future.
This comes right on the tail of the highly publicized (we're talking t-shirts, elaborate quad displays, and tables in front of the dining halls during several meals) and extensively university-supported 'Energy Week,' which was described in another post. So much for choosing a counter-culturally Catholic topic for the Academic Forum, as one of the commentors on that post suggested. I guess a 'life issues' or bioethics forum just isn't interesting, timely, or 'cool' enough for the Office of the President, et. al.
Another observation is that the ND Forum topics seem to be nicely coinciding with this year's television marketing scheme. We're 'fighting disease,' 'fighting for immigration rights' (or I think the most recent version was something more vague about fighting for 'security' and fighting for 'human rights'), and of course 'fighting global warming'. We're the Fighting Irish. It's what we do.
Perhaps I should be able to veil my disappointment a bit more. But we have really come far from the first year of the Forum, when Notre Dame at least tried to address a faith-related topic ("Why God? Understanding Religion and Enacting Faith in a Plural World"). Although in retrospect, I don't remember that going very well either, with former Sen. Danforth contributing this pearl of wisdom:
Danforth clarified his position by saying that rather than fundamentalism, he believes “certainty is the problem – people who believe that they are on God’s side, or they know God’s will.”
The academic forum seems to have great potential...but alas.