From left to right: Elizabeth Arnold (Endowed Professor 2018-2019), Carol Sarosik, Jack Mangala (Endowed Professor 2016-2017), Shelley Padnos, Mark Schaub, Jeff Kelly Lowenstein (Endowed Professor 2020-2021), and Lisa Perhamus (Endowed Professor 2014-2015, Director).
Every two years, the program invites applications for the Padnos/Sarosik Endowed Professor of Civil Discourse. Faculty are encouraged to develop a course and symposium which facilitate the use of civil discourse in examining divergent views about a contemporary issue. Applications are selected through a competitive process by the Advisory Board. Through its rotating thematic focus, the professorship program contributes to local, national, and global conversations that seek to strengthen democracy and civic engagement.
Now in its 8th year and 4th rotation, the current Padnos/Sarosik Endowed Professor of Civil Discourse is Jeff Kelly Lowenstein, whose global focus considers what is at stake for journalists and others who seek to report evidence-based news in an era where “fake news” is a reality. Collaborating with journalists from around the world, his work fosters deeper understanding about the relationship between civil discourse, democracy, and the press.
Past professors have focused on the following themes: relationship-building across the cultural divides of east and west Michigan; tensions and efforts around immigration issues; and debates and initiatives around climate change. The Padnos/Sarosik Center for Civil Discourse engages in difficult conversations of cultural importance through a variety of lenses.