Courageous Conversations: Civil Discourse in Divisive Times

Why is civility so often lacking in our public discourse, especially when strongly held opinions are expressed? The tenor of our debates in the public square, on cable TV, and on social media can deepen distrust and further polarize all parties. Yet it can be easier to talk at each other than with each other. It takes courage to invite and listen to another point of view, to constructively seek to understand, even when agreement is not possible. It has been said that courageous conversations are rare because they are the ones we know we need to have, and know we are not having.

Can we voice our views passionately and persuasively without resorting to ad hominem attacks or unnecessarily divisive tactics? Our 2019 Symposium on Democracy explored how courageous conversations, characterized by civil discourse, are essential to a healthy democratic society.


Morning Keynote: Our Short Time on Earth Together

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend

February 19, 2019 @ 8:30 am - 10:00 am
Olin Theater

Morning Breakout Sessions

February 19, 2019 @ 10:30 am - 11:30 am
Howard J Burnett Center

Lunchtime Keynote: Surviving the Era of ‘Gotcha’ Politics: The Past and Future of Civil Discourse in America

Kerwin Swint, Ph.D.

February 19, 2019 @ 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
James David Ross Family Recreation Center

Afternoon Breakout Sessions

February 19, 2019 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Howard J Burnett Center

TOM Talks

February 19, 2019 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Allen Ballroom, Rossin Campus Center

Evening Keynote: An Artist’s Journey into History, Democracy, Power and Reality

Robert Shetterly

February 19, 2019 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Olin Theater



Kathleen Kennedy Townsend

John C Knapp

Dr. John C. Knapp

Rob Shetterly Photo

Robert Shetterly

Dr. Kerwin Swint

Kerwin Swint, Ph.D.

Video Playlist

Photo Gallery

Symposium on Democracy 2019