Philosophy Department to host agora-style dialogues – Rescheduled

UPDATE: This event has been rescheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 6 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in Room 301 of the Briggs Building.

The agora was the center of public life in ancient Greek city-states.

It was there residents gathered to shop, watch or take part in athletic activities and participate in the philosophical and political life of the city. Here, Socrates would discuss the meaning of life, Plato discovered his calling as a teacher who influenced Aristotle, and western philosophy was shaped.

University of Detroit Mercy’s Department of Philosophy hopes its new initiative — The Agora Dialogue — will capture the spirit of that open exchange of ideas.

The English Department has created these Creative Writing Collectives they hold a couple times a semester, and people come together to write and eat pizza. I thought ‘the Philosophy Department could do something like that,’ said David Koukal.

A professor of Philosophy, Koukal envisions the Agora Dialogue as a casual group that eats pizza and discusses important issues through a philosophical lens. He hopes to have a good mix of students, faculty, alumni and staff to come together in an informal way. Of course, if it nudges students to consider Philosophy as majors or minors, that’s not a bad thing either, he said.

I’m completely open to whatever format,” he said. “It all depends on how many people show up and how things happen at the time. The important thing is that we get together to talk.

The subject for this first dialogue is the timely topic of fake news. “How do we proceed if we can’t determine what the truth is?” Koukal’s flyer asks.
“We see this as a way to enhance the intellectual life of the University,” Koukal said and, if successful, the Agora Dialogue could become a regular feature on the McNichols Campus.

The first Agora Dialogue will be on Wednesday, Jan. 30 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in room 303 of the Briggs Building (see new date above). For more information, contact Koukal at

–Original story written by MarCom Communications Specialist Ron Bernas in our alumni blog.