Common Ground Initiative

Join the Hauenstein Center’s Coffee House Debates, an exciting new program of our Common Ground Initiative. These debates demonstrate the Hauenstein Center’s commitment to the best practices of civil debate, mediation, and negotiation. We bring together community leaders in an open, respectful, intellectually honest forum to confront the political, economic, social, and cultural challenges Americans face.

Should Michigan Raise the Minimum Wage? 

Since the United States instituted the first federal minimum wage in 1938, there has been no shortage of debate on the topic. Whether we should raise, lower, maintain, or abolish the minimum wage has warranted serious discussion and heated debate. All sides want to see a flourishing economy, and with economic struggles, a new bill in Congress, and wage protests around the country, there has never been more need for a common ground solution. To debate the question, “Should Michigan raise the minimum wage?” the Hauenstein Center is hosting a forum featuring Jarrett Skorup from the Mackinac Center for Public Policy and Yannet Lathrop from the Michigan League for Public Policy. These two experts will work through the complex arguments on each side in search of actionable common ground.

Debaters: Jarrett Skorup (Mackinac Center for Public Policy) and Yannet Lathrop (Michigan League for Public Policy)

Date: Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Time: 12:00 PM- 1:05 PM

Location: Pere Marquette Room 2204, Kirkhof Center, GVSU Allendale Campus

What Good Is Government Anyway?

The recent government shutdown reopened a debate as old as 1776: What is the proper size and scope of government? Conservatives believe Big Government is the problem, especially at the federal level. Liberals counter that the nation’s social and economic challenges have become too unwieldy for market mechanisms alone to handle. Both sides agree that there is waste, fraud, and abuse, and both sides agree that the aim of public policy is human flourishing. But is that where consensus ends? To debate the size and scope of the federal government today, the Hauenstein Center is hosting a forum featuring Mark Hoffman and Donijo Robbins, both professors in GVSU’s School of Public, Nonprofit & Health Administration. These two lively disputants will not only air their differences, but they will also explore the possibilities of principled compromise and actionable common ground between liberals and conservatives.




Debaters: Professors Donijo Robbins DeJonge and Mark Hoffman

Date: Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Time: 2:00 PM- 3:05 PM

Location: Forum Room at Seidman College of Business








“Even when progressives and conservatives don’t see eye-to-eye, even when they fail to persuade each other, they still must learn how to work together enough to keep the American experiment going”

Gleaves Whitney






No matter what message you are about to deliver somewhere, whether it is holding out  a hand of friendship, or making clear that you disapprove of something, is the fact that  the person sitting across the table is a human being, so the goal is to always establish common ground.”

Madeleine Albright








We live in a country that used to have a can-do attitude, and now we have a ‘what-can-you-do-for-me?’ attitude, and what I can to do is find ways that we can develop common ground.”

Benjamin Carsontry






Let’s just do what is right for the American people. And those of us who are involved in politics and government know that our responsibility is to the American people, that we have a responsibility to find our common ground, to seek it and to find it.”

Nancy Pelosi 






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