2019 Civil Discourse Symposium

On November 19, Grand Valley faculty, staff, students, and community members participated in the 6th Annual Padnos/Sarosik Civil Discourse Symposium titled, Civil Discourse Café: Complicated Conversations. Elizabeth Arnold, associate professor of anthropology and the current Padnos/Sarosik endowed professor of civil discourse, focused the event around storytelling as a means of building rapport and empathy. Four storytellers shared stories and represented a variety of perspectives: Lin Bardwell, Grand Rapids Community Relations commissioner and project coordinator for GVSU’s Division of Inclusion and Equity, Victoria Vuletrich, Assistant Dean at the Grand Rapids campus of Western Michigan University Cooley Law School, Brian Plachta, a shareholder with Plachta, Murphy & Associates, and Peter Sinclair, a videographer who specializes in climate change and renewable energy issues. Attendees were then invited to practice civil discourse in roundtable discussions which were facilitated by student hosts.

During the event, Jeff Kelly Lowenstein, assistant professor of journalism, was introduced as the next Padnos/Sarosik Endowed Professor of Civil Discourse. Jeff is the fourth professor in this role following Lisa Perhamus, Jack Mangala, and Elizabeth Arnold. Housed within the Brook College of Interdisciplinary Studies, the Padnos/Sarosik Endowed Professorship of Civil Discourse was founded in 2013 through a generous gift from longtime university supporters, Shelley Padnos and Carol Sarosik with the mission to prepare GVSU students to be leaders in advancing respectful, informed dialogue around vital social issues in their communities.

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