In keeping with the best of its land-grant tradition, the University of Minnesota will host three forums begining on March 23 that aim to bring research findings to bear on the big decisions ahead for the 2010 Legislature and voters. Three presentations at the Humphrey Institute's Cowles Auditorium will showcase research pertinent to Minnesota policymaking.

The public is invited to "Minnesota's Future: 3 x 3 -- 3 evenings, 3 critical issues facing Minnesota, 3 solutions," sponsored by the University Metropolitan Consortium. At each of three 90-minute sessions, a leading university scholar has asked three colleagues to join him in discussing what research advises about a key aspect of state policy. The three Tuesday sessions are all slated to begin at 5 p.m.

The first session, on March 23, will feature a discussion of how to improve the Minnesota economy, led by state economist Tom Stinson. Session two on March 30, "A Heathy Minnesota," will be led by School of Public Health Dean John Finnegan; session three on April 6 will be about education and workforce development, led by Kent Pekel, executive director of the College Readiness Consortium.

The stated rationale for the forums should register with every voter: "Minnesota now faces critical challenges that threaten its vaunted quality of life," the meetings' official announcement says. "This was one of the nation’s most economically vibrant states. Now Minnesota’s economy underperforms the nation as a whole, demonstrated by lackluster income growth, surging unemployment, and anemic job creation. As we look to the future, how should we address our enormous challenges? What, specifically, should Minnesota do?"  The three forums will be free of charge.