University Forum

University Forum is an exciting one-hour course designed to engage students with the widest range of cultural and artistic experiences in Hattiesburg and its environs. Students hear stimulating lectures from some of the best-known authors and thinkers in the country and attend a plethora of cultural events, from concerts to plays to films to exhibit openings. The class is an eye-opening experience, one that Forum veterans recall fondly years after graduation. In what other college course do students hear from Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Cat Cora or Rick Bragg?

Students earn one hour of course credit in either HON321 (fall semester) or HON322 (spring semester). All Honors College freshmen are required to take the course, but any university student is welcome in the class, which can be repeated for up to eight hours.

University Forum is directed by Dr. Alen Hajnal from the Department of Psychology, with technical support from the Honors College staff. Contact us at if you have questions about the course.

Fall 2014 Schedule

  • James Inabinet, Director of La Terre Bioregional Center
    Information forthcoming.

  • Julian Walker, USM theatre student & star in the movie, Blackbird
    September 16th at 6:30pm in the Thad Cochran Center, Ballroom II
    In January 2013, Walker made The University of Southern Mississippi’s Hattiesburg campus his college home, where he studies theater and media production. Blackbird, a coming-of-age story, explores homosexuality, race and religion in a southern Christian community. Alongside Walker, Oscar-winning actress Mo’Nique and Isaiah Washington star in the movie that premiered in February 2014 to critical acclaim, and has been featured at half a dozen national and international film festivals.

  • Bob Jensen, Journalism Professor, University of Texas
    September 23rd 6:30pm in the Trent Lott Center, room 103 A-D
    Robert Jensen is a professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas. His most recent books are Arguing for Our Lives: A User’s Guide to Constructive Dialogue (City Lights, 2013); and We Are All Apocalyptic Now: On the Responsibilities of Teaching, Preaching, Reporting, Writing, and Speaking Out (MonkeyWrench Books/CreateSpace, 2013). The topic of his talk at USM will be “Crises, Ecological and Social”. Jensen writes for popular media, both alternative and mainstream. His opinion and analytic pieces on such subjects as foreign policy, politics, economics, and ecology have appeared in newspapers, magazines, and web sites all over the world.

  • Whitney Miller, author and chef
    October 7th at 6:30pm in the Trent Lott Center, room 103
    Inspired by the hospitality of her 97 year-old great-grandmother and creativity of her mother, Whitney Miller’s passion for the art of cooking began at an early age. At twenty two, she won the show Masterchef, gaining the title of Fox’s 1st U. S. Masterchef. Soon afterward, Whitney obtained her degree, with an emphasis in nutrition, from The University of Southern Mississippi. As the youngest contestant and winner of Fox’s first America’s Masterchef, Whitney continues to inspire children, youth, and young adults, through cooking demonstrations and speaking events at public and private schools, culinary classes and colleges, and children’s museum events across the United States.
  • Dr. Andy Wiest, History Professor, USM
    October 14th at 6:30pm in the Thad Cochran Center, Ballroom III
    Specializing in the study of World War I and Vietnam, Dr. Wiest has served as a Visiting Senior Lecturer at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst in the United Kingdom and as a Visiting Professor in the Department of Warfighting Strategy in the United States Air Force Air War College.  In 2011-2012 Dr. Wiest held the Charles W. Moorman Distinguished Alumni Professorship in the Humanities. Since 1992 Dr. Wiest has been active in international education, leading a study abroad program on World War II to London and Normandy each summer, and developing the award-winning Vietnam Study Abroad Program.
  • Gary Johnson, Libertarian Party, Former Governor of New Mexico
    October 21st at 6:30pm in Bennett Auditorium
    Gary Earl Johnson (born January 1, 1953) is an American politician, businessman, and member of the Libertarian Party. Johnson served as the 29th Governor of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003, as a member of the Republican Party, and was the Libertarian Party nominee for President of the United States in the 2012 election.