The Great American Experiment: A Juxtaposition of Capitalism and Democracy

The Milton S. Eisenhower Symposium is marking its 36th year at the Johns Hopkins University with lectures from well-known guests under the theme "The Great American Experiment: A Juxtaposition of Capitalism and Democracy."

Established in 1967 to honor the university's eighth president, the annual MSE Symposium is an undergraduate-run lecture series, free and open to the public, that brings to campus renowned speakers with a variety of perspectives on issues of national importance. This year, the symposium aims to explore how the two pillars of American society—capitalism and democracy—interact, and how their interactions affect Americans.

Symposium co-chairs Payal Patel and Michael Mondo, both juniors, and senior Feroze Sidhwa and their staff have invited eight speakers to Shriver Hall to explore this theme as widely as possible. The student co-chairs select the topics, secure the speakers, raise the funds and publicize the series.

The symposium began on Wednesday, Sept. 10 with the lecture "At What Cost? Probing Healthcare in America," by Patch Adams, the well-known physician and social activist who believes that laughter, joy and creativity are an integral part of the healing process. The real person behind the title character in the movie Patch Adams starring Robin Williams, Adams has devoted 30 years to changing America's healthcare system, a system which he describes as expensive and elitist. Adams advocates a healthcare model where doctors and patients relate to each other on the basis of mutual trust, and patients receive plenty of time from their doctors. Adams is founder and director of the Gesundheit! Institute, a holistic medical community that has provided free medical care to thousands of patients since it began in 1971. He is the author of Gesundheit!, a book which describes his work and ideas about the current health care system.

The coming weeks will bring other prominent guests from various fields to the Homewood campus, including conservative political activist and writer Ann Coulter on Thursday, Sept. 25; John Stossel, co-anchor of ABC's 20/20, on Tuesday, Sept. 30; liberal activist, best-selling author, and Oscar-winning director Michael Moore on Friday, Oct. 10; and Patricia Ireland, the longest-serving president of the National Organization for Women, on Wednesday, Oct. 22.

Three other speakers are still being confirmed.

Each lecture lasts approximately 45 minutes and is followed by a question-and-answer period and a reception where guests mingle with members of the audience.

The students will also present the MSE Film Series. Films are meant to supplement the lectures by providing various viewpoints of specific lecture topics. Screenings take place in Schafler Auditorium in the Bloomberg Center for Physics and Astronomy, while lectures take place at 7:30 p.m. in Shriver Hall Auditorium on the university's Homewood campus [3400 N. Charles St.].

For more information, contact the MSE Symposium office at 410-516-7683, or call 410-516-7160, or access the MSE Symposium Web site.

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This story was published on September 16, 2003.