UMass Boston Hosts a National Forum on Civility and American Democracy
February 10, 2012
Office of Communications
The McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston will host “Civility and American Democracy: A National Forum” on February 17, 2012. The forum will explore the concept of civil discourse, the tensions in its theory and practice, and its place in American democracy.
Nationally recognized scholars of history, philosophy, comparative religion, political science, law and culture – including Diana Eck, Randall Kennedy, Jill Lepore, and Austin Sarat among others - will discuss the role civility plays in American politics. Columnists including Pulitzer-Prize winners Ellen Goodman and Kathleen Parker, along with Joe Klein from Time Magazine, will also participate. Tom Ashbrook, award-winning journalist and host of WBUR’s On Point, will moderate the forum.
“At a time when political discourse seems to be a path to paralysis, this forum brings together prominent humanities scholars, political thinkers and journalists to explore the meaning of civility and its role in American democracy,” said Steve Crosby, dean of the McCormack School.
The Friday full-day event is organized around four themed sessions. The first will explore civility in American history. The second topic will focus on the relationship between civility, morality and the American tradition of religious tolerance. In Session 3, forum participants will examine civility and culture. Finally, in a panel on civility and the media, distinguished journalists will reflect on the day’s discussions and what can be applied from them to improve journalistic best practices.
The event at UMass Boston’s Campus Center is sold out. However, the forum will engage a broad audience through radio and television broadcasts and live streaming on the internet at www.centerforcivildiscourse.com. In fact, an online community is already participating in a public discussion about civility engaging ordinary citizens and policy and journalism school students across the country in the process of examination and discovery.
Funded by a National Endowment for the Humanities grant, sponsors of the forum include UMass Boston, Mass Humanities, and WBUR. Partnering schools include Claremont Graduate University, the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement at Colby College, the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University, Saint Anselm College, the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, University of Alaska Anchorage, the National Institute for Civil Discourse at the University of Arizona, and the University of Washington.
The forum is the first in a series of public events planned for 2012 at the newly created Center for Civil Discourse at the McCormack School. Two national “Democracy Debates,” based on the intellectual content of the forum and designed to demonstrate what civility looks like in practice, will follow in June and September and will focus on urgent and controversial issues of the day. Debaters will be drawn from academia, the media, and politics and will personify the principles of civil discourse while arguing passionately for their positions.
For more information, please contact Mary Jane Patrone at email@example.com or by telephone at 617.287.5752.
About UMass Boston
With a growing reputation for innovative research addressing complex issues, the University of Massachusetts Boston, metropolitan Boston’s only public university, offers its diverse student population both an intimate learning environment and the rich experience of a great American city. UMass Boston’s seven colleges and graduate schools serve nearly 15,000 students while engaging local, national, and international constituents through academic programs, research centers, and public service activities. To learn more about UMass Boston, visit www.umb.edu.