As the country examines the tone of political dialogue, the National Constitution Center presents an interactive, interdisciplinary forum titled “Can We Talk? A Conversation about Civility and Democracy in America.” The forum explored the current state of public discourse and the issue of civility in the context of the roles that dissent and protest play in American politics.
Participants, drawn from such fields as history, political philosophy, political science, law, sociology, journalism, and communications discussed key themes such as the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, the concept of civic virtue, the importance of dissent and deliberation in America’s constitutional democracy, and the ways in which political actors and the media can contribute to or detract from productive public discourse.
In this excerpt from the Can We Talk: Civic and Social Entrepreneurs breakout session, participants question whether incivility is a result of society avoiding to confront important issues, and whether policymaking be done behind closed doors?
Participants include: David Eisner, President & CEO – National Constitution Center; W. Wilson Goode, Sr., National Director – Amachi Program; Lauren Hughes, Community Relations Coordinator – WHYY; Caren Izzo, educator – Haddonfield Middle School; David Karpf, Assistant Professor – Rutgers University School of Communication and Information; Lauren Schwarze, Project Manager – Nine Network of Public Media.
The symposium was supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Bridging Cultures program, which awarded grants in August 2010 for a series of national conversations on civility. The Center’s conference was the culminating event of the series. PBS was the official media partner.