Heading: Padnos/Sarosik Center for Civil Discourse
Words are building blocks / They create, save and destroy / What are yours used for? -Camara El, Detroit based poet

Our Mission / Our Vision

Civil discourse is “robust, honest, frank and constructive dialogue and deliberation that seeks to advance the public interest” (Brosseau, 2011).  It is an exchange of ideas that simultaneously:

  • Holds individuals accountable for their voice (how we talk);
  • Remains curious about other people’s perspectives (how we hear),
  • Respects multiple realities (how we honor personhood).

Civil discourse is not polite conversation, but, rather, intentional dialogue that builds understanding across difference. As Margaret Wheatley states, “We don’t have to let go of what we believe, but we do need to be curious about what someone else believes” (2009).

As a gift from Shelley E. Padnos and Carol Sarosik, the Padnos/Sarosik Center for 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 program, 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. 


Have a question about the Padnos/Sarosik Center for Civil Discourse at GVSU? Feel free to email us at [email protected]

Our Story: Padnos/Sarosik Center for Civil Discourse

Padnos/Sarosik Center for Civil Discourse video


Tired of the toxic level of polarization in the U.S.? Interested in talking with people whose perspective differs from your own in ways that stay constructive? We invite you to join us for a year focused on creating a culture of conversation rather than division. 

The Padnos/Sarosik Center for Civil Discourse, Kaufman Interfaith Institute, Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies, and WGVU Public Media are pleased to partner for Talking Together: Strengthening our Communities through Conversation, a dialogue initiative aimed at interrupting polarization and investing in the principles of civil discourse and respectful conversation. Each month will feature at least one structured activity for students, staff, faculty, and community members to engage in conversation with one other across differences in perspective, identity, and life experiences. Learn more and view the event schedule.


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GVSU Padnos/Sarosik Center for Civil Discourse
The Talking Together series continues next week with The Peopleā€™s Supper, an event led by Kaufman Interfaith Institute. Join us on October 13th for a free dinner, film screening (Purple), and engaging conversation! Details and RSVP at gvsu.edu/talkingtogetheā€¦ .

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Page last modified September 21, 2022