Media Relations

Press Release:


FAU Creates the Agora Project Initiative

Events Kick Off with Examining Race and Hate Crimes in America

BOCA RATON, Fla. (February 7, 2014) – In observation of Black History Month and as part of Florida Atlantic University’s Agora Project, the Division of Student Affairs and the Office of Multicultural Affairs will host a forum on “Race and Hate Crimes in America” on Tuesday, Feb. 11 from 5 to 7 p.m., in FAU’s College of Business, room BU 120, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton campus.

The event will include a screening of the documentary film “Hate Crimes in the Heartland,” followed by a forum session moderated by Derrick White, Ph.D., associate professor of history at FAU.

Panelists include Graham Brown, president of the FAU chapter of Dream Defenders; Rachel Lyons, “Hate Crimes in the Heartland” writer, director and producer; Pablo del Real, community activist; Christopher Strain, Ph.D., professor of American studies at the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College at FAU; and Rhonda Swan, columnist and editorial board writer at The Palm Beach Post.

“We are very fortunate to host the Florida premiere of this important documentary and are honored to have such expert panelists participating in this critical conversation,” said William Trapani, Ph.D., director of the Agora Project. “Hate crimes against all peoples continue to rise and in this, the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, it is important for all of us to reflect on constructive dialogue and steps we can take to reduce intolerance and incidences of hate crimes in our communities.”

The event is free and open to the public. Attendees are encouraged to RSVP at For more information, email or


 Organizers of the Agora Project at FAU believe that a healthy, civil society depends on the ability of citizens to express themselves freely, and to respect views that differ from their own. According to Trapani, the dedication to a tolerant marketplace of ideas is at the core of America’s democracy. Universities succeed best when they promote participation, freedom of expression, respect for differing opinions and the responsible pursuit of inquiry. Universities such as Rutgers University, the University of Missouri and the University of Arizona also have launched civility and civic discourse initiatives similar to FAU’s Agora Project.

The mission of the Agora Project is to utilize innovative strategies to promote appreciation and demonstration of the importance of civility, civil discourse, academic freedom and the responsibilities associated with academic freedom on FAU’s campuses, as well as within its communities and the world-at-large.

“I can’t say enough about the tremendous support the initiative has received,” said Trapani. “From the beginning, we set out to be the most comprehensive and dynamic campus dialogue and environment initiative in the country, and even this early into our efforts you can sense the enthusiasm for the project all over our campuses.” 

As part of this effort, FAU will host public debates on important topics of the day, showcase exceptional students through contests, speakers’ corners and volunteer and leadership opportunities, as the project seeks innovative ways to generate a healthy climate of civil participation and engagement in our campus communities.

A recently launched student “ambassadors” program is designed to give interested students the opportunity to become more effective campus leaders through dialogue enrichment workshops and discussions on the importance of civil discourse on our campuses and in our communities.

FAU Agora Project events include:

Public Debate between FAU Students and the Japanese National Debate Team
Monday, March 10, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. 
University Theatre, Boca Raton Campus

The debate will feature lively exchanges from opposing sides of an important issue of the day and will showcase the importance and potential for civic discourse conducted in a civil fashion. Debate exchanges between American students and students from Japan as part of an international discussion and debate series began in 1922. For more information, contact William Trapani, Ph.D., at 561-297-2051, or or


South Florida Regional Studies LGTBQ Conference
Saturday, April 5, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. 
Liberal Arts Building, Davie Campus  

The South Florida Regional Studies LGTBQ Conference brings together LGBTQ scholars, researchers, faculty and LGBTQ students from FAU, the University of Miami, Florida International University, as well as members of the South Florida LGBTQ communities to develop a dialogue between this community and related study programs in the area. For more information, contact Fred Fejes, Ph.D., at 561-297-3858, or email or


‘Moving Toward Universal Compassion’ – a Public Talk with Paul Ekman, Ph.D.
Monday, April 7, from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
College of Business, Room BU 120, Boca Raton Campus 

Paul Ekman, Ph.D., is widely recognized as one of the world’s preeminent psychologists studying emotion and non-verbal behavior. His work was the inspiration for the television program “Lie to Me,” and is path-breaking in helping understand empathy — a crucial component of civility and civil discourse. For more information, contact William Trapani, Ph.D., at 561-297-2051, or email



For more information or to see the full calendar of Agora Project events, visit


Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University, with an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion, serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at sites throughout its six-county service region in southeast Florida. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University is placing special focus on the rapid development of three signature themes – marine and coastal issues, biotechnology and contemporary societal challenges – which provide opportunities for faculty and students to build upon FAU’s existing strengths in research and scholarship. For more information, visit

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