Civil Discourse

As a gift from Shelley E. Padnos and Carol Sarosik, the Padnos/Sarosik Endowed Professorship of Civil Discourse in the Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies will promote engagement with the concepts and tools of civil discourse. Through the initiatives of this position, Grand Valley hopes to strengthen the commitment to informed, peace-based, and respectful dialogue across the campus community and the neighboring areas of West Michigan. 

What is Civil Discourse?

Civil discourse is engagement in discourse (conversation) intended to enhance understanding. Rather than focusing on the barriers and limitations of a situation, civil discourse involves a commitment to building on the possibilities and assets which folks around the table offer.


We envision a civically engaged community that builds bridges of empathy and mutual respect across diverse perspectives through the tools of civil discourse.


GVSU’s Padnos/Sarosik Civil Discourse Program will prepare students to be agents of social change who practice and model civil discourse.

The first Padnos/Sarosik Endowed Professorship of Civil Discourse was held by College of Education faculty member, Lisa M. Perhamus. The second Professorship was held by Jack R. Mangala, Associate Professor of African and African-American Studies and Political Science. The current Professorship is being held by Elizabeth Arnold, Associate Professor of Anthropology.


Dr. Lisa Perhamus, Director of the Padnos/Sarosik Civil Discourse Program, is available to answer any questions you may have about this program at GVSU. Feel free to contact her via email or phone:, 616-331-6736.