April 18-19 Conference Seeks to Restore Civility to Civic Dialogue

April 18-19 Conference Seeks to Restore Civility to Civic Dialogue

How can we the American people, rebuild civility and our sense of common community in the wake of the most divisive election in recent history? That is a question the Institute for Civil Civic Engagement (ICCE) will be working to address on April 18 and 19 on the University of San Diego campus.

The sixth annual Conference on Restoring Civility to Civic Dialogue, organized and hosted by the ICCE, will have a mix of panel discussions with workshops on conducting effective civil dialogues and civic engagement. The conference targets community private sector and government leaders, secondary and post-secondary students, faculty, staff and administrators and all San Diegans who are interested in discussing and learning strategies to reunite a politically polarized America. 

The two-day conference, to be held in the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, is free and is open to the public. Registration begins each day at 8 a.m. 

The event's keynote address, titled, A Conversation on Rebuilding Civility in a Divided Nation, will take place at 9 a.m. on April 19. A discussion with former Republican Congressman Marvin Henry "Mickey" Edwards of Oklahoma's Fifth District and former Democratic Congressman Dan Glickman of Kansas' Fourth District. The address will be moderated by Dr. Carolyn Lukensmeyer, executive director at the National Institute for Civil Discourse. 

"Our country is at a critical crossroads," said San Diego Mesa College Professor of Political Science and USD Visiting Professor Carl Luna, who also serves as director of the ICCE. "We either continue down the path of anger and polarization we've been marching down for a generation and see continued political dysfunction, public anger and the real dangers of political conflict unraveling our Republic or we engage in a sustained, albeit difficult national conversation about how we can work together as Americans first, political partisans second. We have to restore the 'We' to 'We the People.' Our annual conference adds the voices of the San Diego community to that discussion." 

More than 24 panels and workshops on issues of civility in politics, the media and education will be conducted by participants such as the National Institute for Civil Discourse, San Diego Unified School District's Office of Family and Community Engagement, the National Conflict Resolution Center, Independent Voter Communications, San Diego Diplomacy Council, San Diego Deliberation Network, California State University, San Marcos, Grossmont College, Southwestern College, Institute for Civic Dialog; Civility Center of Washington State University Vancouver, and representatives from USD such as the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES), Kroc School of Peace Studies, Changemaker Hub, Associated Students and the Mulvaney Center for Community Awareness and Social Action. 

The conference starts on Tuesday, April 18 at 9 a.m. with welcome remarks from Noelle Norton, dean of USD's College of Arts and Sciences. The first day's events include panels on civility and the media, building civic engagement from local to global, approaches to civil engagement and several hands-on interactive workshops on strategies to create effective civic dialogue. 

The plenary session takes place on Wednesday, April 19 from 9 a.m. to noon in USD's Kroc Peace and Justice Theatre. James T. Harris III, DEd, president of USD is among those scheduled to participate. It will be followed by a discussion titled, The Role of Higher Education in Rebuilding Civility, will be moderated by Luna. USD SOLES' Dean, Dr. Nicholas Ladany, is among the participants. 

Afternoon sessions on April 19 will focus on the role of education in building community and civic engagement. Panels will feature college and university leaders and college and high school student leaders. Workshops on civic dialogue will be open to high school and college students and the general public.