Embodying the Marketplace of Ideas

The President’s Forum is an event series consisting of moderated conversations about controversial issues and timely topics, presenting diverse perspectives in a fair and balanced manner and underscoring the academy’s unique role as the ultimate marketplace of ideas. This past spring, I attended the President’s Forum “Transgender Athletes and Competitive Sports: A Conversation,” and I took away several valuable lessons from the discussion that I now use in my everyday life.

President Herbert and Anouar Majid stand with two speakers in front of banners for the U N E President's Forum
A student speaks into a microphone at a President's Forum
Three speakers sit in leather chairs and talking on the stage at a President's Forum

While I do not have a personal connection with transgender individuals or a strong opinion on the matter, I admired how the speakers were able to converse civilly on a contentious topic on which they have differing perspectives.

Due to the hyperpolarized nature of society and social media, I often consider one perspective on many topics. The President’s Forum taught me that it is OK to acknowledge that a conversation may be difficult due to opposing opinions.

Respectful conversation with those of differing opinions allows me to broaden my perspectives. The forum allowed me to acknowledge and appreciate both perspectives on an issue for which I had only previously considered one side. I will take elements from this dialogue, such as respect, consideration, and active listening and apply them when having difficult conversations with colleagues, peers, family, and friends.


In fact, I am already employing these skills in my new career in health care. My job requires me to collaborate with other members of the staff, and I implement several of these concepts when navigating conversations. I strive to consistently acknowledge others’ perspectives, create a safe space, maintain a positive and productive attitude, and allow all parties the opportunity to contribute. Open, respectful communication is the key to successful, meaningful conversation and personal growth. UNE provided me with a safe environment to explore multiple perspectives and prepare for real-world conversations.

E. Mackenzie Greenleaf, B.S. ’23 (Health Sciences)

A woman speaks into a U N E-branded microphone at a President's Forum event

Bonus Content

Watch the Conversations

Maine’s Homelessness Crisis

AI: The End of the World or the Dawn of a New Age

Transgender Athletes and Competitive Sports: A Conversation

Policing in America

Making Sense of Jordan Peterson

What About Guns?