Students in civil discourse class will travel to Detroit

Detroit's Heidelberg Project is one stop for students enrolled in the inaugural civil discourse class this fall.
Detroit's Heidelberg Project is one stop for students enrolled in the inaugural civil discourse class this fall.
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Students who enroll in the inaugural civil discourse class this fall will have a unique opportunity to meet Detroiters who are working at the grassroots level to revitalize their neighborhoods.

“Detroit’s Public Dialogues” will be taught by Lisa M. Perhamus, assistant professor of education. Perhamus is the first Padnos/Sarosik Endowed Professor of Civil Discourse, housed in the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies.

Perhamus said she designed the course to show students how language and civil discourse are tied to social justice. “I would like the students to see how people use the narratives of their lives to create social justice,” she said.

The course includes two days in Detroit, spending time with leaders like Grace Lee Boggs, the 99-year-old activist who remains active after seven decades of working for labor and civil rights, and Richard Feldman, labor activist and board member of the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center for Nurturing Community Leadership. Students will also tour urban gardens, the Heidelberg Project and other initiatives created by Detroiters.

Perhamus said it’s important for students to know they are not headed to Michigan’s largest city to rescue it. “We’re partners with the people who are living in Detroit. We will learn from them, and learn how people are committed to each other as neighbors,” she said.

Others in the campus and West Michigan community will have an opportunity to meet Feldman and other Detroiters at a symposium, “Civil Discourse for Civic Engagement,” set for November 3 at the L. William Seidman Center.

Perhamus said she chose the day before Election Day to hold the symposium to recognize the importance of civil discourse in decision-making. The symposium will run from 5-8:30 p.m., including a light dinner, film screening and panel discussion. The film, “We Are Not Ghosts,” tells the stories behind Detroit’s revitalization.

RSVP for the symposium online by clicking here.

Click here to read more about the professorship, course and symposium.