COMPAS: Conversations on Morality, Politics, and Society



The COMPAS theme for 2021-2022 is Markets and the Open Society

COMPAS (Conversations on Morality, Politics, and Society) consists of a year-long series of interdisciplinary events on a controversial topic of public concern. The COMPAS program aims to model civil and informed discussion of core ethical challenges in a way that universities are uniquely positioned to promote. The COMPAS theme often dovetails with Ohio State's Discovery Themes Initiative, which itself seeks to discover interdisciplinary solutions to the grand challenges of the 21st century.

The COMPAS program has several related components:

  • The core academic program consists of a series of conferences, colloquia, and other events aimed at promoting critical reflection and respectful debate on the COMPAS theme. In addition to featuring distinguished scholars from Ohio State and many other universities, we have been honored to feature world-class speakers including Gro Harlem Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Norway and Special Envoy with the United Nations, Jeffrey Sachs, former Director of the Earth Institute, and Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
  • The university life program coordinates with partners from across campus to foster a university-wide conversation on the COMPAS topic. University life activities have included partnerships with First Year Experience, the Wexner Center for the Arts, and many other units.
  • The education and outreach program promotes reflection on the COMPAS theme in the classroom and the broader community through related undergraduate courses (ASC 2400 & ASC 2400E) and partnerships with faculty, educators, and community groups. In its outreach efforts, COMPAS has worked with the Columbus Mayor's Office, the Mid-Ohio Food Bank, WOSU, and other organizations to bring the COMPAS conversation to the broader community.

Previous COMPAS topics include Immigration (2011-12), Public/Private (2013-14), Sustainability (2015-16), Inequality (2016-17), Religion in Public Life (2017-18), Technology (2018-19), What Is America? (2019-20), and COVID-19 (2020-21).