Civil Discourse Symposium - Winter 2022

Bridging Divides: Encouraging Dialogue with Radical Empathy

The Padnos/Sarosik Center for Civil Discourse hosted a hybrid symposium (in-person and virtual) which was open to the public on Wednesday, March 23rd at 6:30pm in the Eberhard Center. At this symposium, the focus was on healing and bridging divides. Dr. Terri Givens joined us as our keynote speaker for the Annual Civil Discourse Symposium, Bridging Divides: Encouraging Dialogue with Radical Empathy. There are many social, cultural, and political divides that often make it difficult to talk with one another. This winter’s symposium focused on bridging these divides through a concept and a process Dr. Givens calls “radical empathy.” She shared her personal story of living with the impact and consequences of racism as a way to help us better understand how practicing radical empathy toward each other can help us to dialogue across difference, and, from there, create meaningful social change. This winter’s symposium was interactive, providing participants an opportunity to begin practicing radical empathy. It was open to students, staff, faculty, administrators, and community members. The current Endowed Professor of Civil Discourse, Jeff Kelly Lowenstein, coordinated this exciting event.

This event is INT 100 and 201 approved!


Eberhard Center

301 Fulton St W, Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Date & Time

Wednesday, March 23, 2022 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM


200 people (120 virtually, 80 in-person)

Radical Empathy: Finding A Path to Bridging Racial Divides by Terri Givens

Structural racism has impacted the lives of African Americans in the United States since before the country’s founding. Although the country has made some progress towards a more equal society, political developments in the 21st century have shown that deep divides remain. 

To bridge our divides, renowned political scientist Terri Givens calls for ‘radical empathy’ – moving beyond an understanding of others’ lives and pain to understand the origins of our biases.

Deftly weaving together her own experiences with the political, she offers practical steps to call out racism and bring about radical social change.

Page last modified April 6, 2022