Civil Discourse Symposium addresses difficult conversations


GVL / Meghan Landgren

Marin Smith, Editorial Intern

Faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members gathered at the 2019 Civil Discourse Symposium on Tuesday, Nov. 19 to practice having open and understanding conversations with one another in light of the increase of polarizing conversations in today’s society. The title of this year’s civil discourse symposium was “Civil Discourse Café: Complicated Conversations.”

The event focused on practicing how to have a conversation with one another on various issues of water and equity, which tied in with Grand Valley State University’s two-year Making Waves Initiative.

The event featured guest speakers such as Peter Sinclair, a videographer who specializes in climate change and renewable energy issues, and Lin Bardwell, Grand Rapids Community Relations commissioner and project coordinator for GVSU’s Division of Inclusion and Equity. This year’s Padnos/Sarosik Endowed Professor of Civil Discourse Elizabeth Arnold focused the theme for this year’s event on storytelling as a means of building rapport and empathy.

Later on in the evening, assistant professor of journalism Jeffrey Kelly Lowenstein was introduced as the next Padnos/Sarosik Endowed Professor of Civil Discourse.

The professorship calls for the chair to develop a new course around civil discourse that will be offered in fall 2020 through the Brooks College and to convene a symposium,” Kelly Lowenstein said. “My goals are to build on the work professors Perhamus, Mangala and Arnold, the previous holders, have done and help civil discourse become an integrated part of the community here at Grand Valley, in West Michigan and beyond.”