From left to right: Carol Sarosik (Founder), Shelley Padnos (Founder), Elizabeth Arnold (Endowed Professor 2018-2019), Greg Warsen (Endowed Professor 2022-2023), Jeff Kelly Lowenstein (Endowed Professor 2020-2022), Jack Mangala (Endowed Professor 2016-2017), 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 10th year and 5th rotation, the current Padnos/Sarosik Endowed Professor of Civil Discourse is Greg Warsen, whose focus is on the pressing need for civil discourse in Board of Education meetings, paying particular attention to the need for healing polarization among PK-12 education leaders, community stakeholders, and families.
Past endowed 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.