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WIU Professor Invited to Debate at Oxford
July 11, 2012
MACOMB – Western Illinois University Department of Communication Assistant Professor Chris Carpenter was invited to debate at the Oxford Union Society in England in May.
Carpenter, who has done extensive research on social media issues, was invited to speak on the motion, "This House Believes Social Media has Successfully Reinvented Social Activism."
The Oxford Union, which holds no political views, has been called the "world's most prestigious debating society" with a reputation for bringing international guests and speakers to Oxford. The society was established 189 years ago to promote debate and discussion at both Oxford University and around the world.
"It went very well," Carpenter said of his trip. "There were seven speakers and each side took turns speaking. I talked about the communication research on social media and social activism."
The research and the debate included the premise that social media can work for and against activists, such as in Iran, Egypt and Syria.
"This was one of the most fun things I have ever done," Carpenter said of the debate. "It was definitely a culmination of years of debate practice; it was the Olympics of debate for me. It was very rewarding and I had a good time talking to the other debaters."
Event speakers debating for the question included Louisiana Senator and attorney David Vitter; S4Inc. Vice President and National Security Advisor to President George W. Bush Mark Pfeifle and C4 technology correspondent and pinknews.co.uk founder Benjamin Cohen.
Speakers joining Carpenter in opposition included Mark Kersten, a PhD candidate in the London School of Economics and author and creator of the Justice in Conflict blog; Matt Warman, consumer technology editor at The Telegraph and Robert Sharp, the head of campaign & communications at English PEN.
At the end of the debate, the audience was asked to vote for the winner based on leaving via exit doors marked "Ayes" and "Noes." Carpenter said he estimated the opposition speakers won by about two-thirds of the vote.
Carpenter has also received notoriety for recent research he conducted on the social media site Facebook.
He said he received a call from the Oxford society in March and he quickly accepted. The WIU College of Fine Arts and Communication funded Carpenter's transportation to Oxford.