Spring 2013

Making Our Point: A Civility Initiative

By Nick Boehm

Civil engagement is a prerequisite to a successful democratic society. Unfortunately more often than we like to admit, our political initiatives subject ourselves to

counter-productive combative arguments, falling off track of our initial debate and ultimately losing the ability to articulate the issues we face. 

The College of Letters and Science is launching “Making Our Point: A Civility Initiative,” a program that will discuss how UW-Stevens Point and our nation should model civil discourse.  The event will take place on Constitution Day, September 17, 2013.

“Our objective is to work for a conception of civil discourse that is grounded and consistent with the overall goals of higher education,” said Assistant Dean Dona Warren.

Making Our Point: A Civility Initiative, will blend certain ideas from existing civility programs such as “Speak Your Peace,” a community-held organization that started in Duluth, Minn., and has since moved to areas of Central Wisconsin including Wisconsin Rapids and Stevens Point. The main purpose of Speak Your Peace is to urge citizens to communicate in a respectful and effective way.

“UW-Stevens Point’s goal is to use civil discourse as a way for learning rather than a training program to be kind,” said Dean Chris Cirmo.

The project was awarded the Bringing Theory to Practice Grant by the Association of American Colleges and Universities. The grant will allow for a formal inauguration in fall 2013 through a workshop, during which an invited speaker will introduce administrators and members of Faculty Senate and the Student Government Association to the principles guiding the program’s civility initiatives.

A public forum will be held after the workshop that officially announces the university’s civility initiatives, recapitulates the principles of civil discourse, and illustrates the principles of civil discourse with a panel discussion centering upon a controversial issue.

The forum is supported by a number of university affiliates including the Student Government Association, the Office of Academic Affairs, the College of Letters and Science, the university student Democratic Party adviser, the university student Republican Party adviser, and the Community Foundation of Central Wisconsin.

 Making Our Point: A Civility Initiative is an example of how UW-Stevens Point is using its resources to improve standards of living. Students and the community should expect these initiatives to improve classroom and everyday political discussion.

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