Center for Civil Discourse symposium will explore radical empathy

headshot of Terri Givens
Terri Givens, professor of political science at McGill University and author, will be the symposium's keynote speaker.
Image Credit: courtesy photo

The Padnos/Sarosik Center for Civil Discourse will host its eighth annual symposium on March 23, focused on bridging divides through a concept the keynote speaker calls "radical empathy."

Terri Givens, professor of political science at McGill University and author of "Radical Empathy: Finding a Path to Bridging Racial Divides," is the keynote speaker. The free, hybrid event is 6:30-8:30 p.m., in-person at the Eberhard Center, second floor, or virtually via Zoom. Register online to select a preference; virtual attendees will receive a Zoom link.

Lisa Perhamus, director of the Padnos/Sarosik Center for Civil Discourse, said Givens will share her story of living with the consequences of racism as an avenue to help participants understand how practicing radical empathy can bridge differences and lead to meaningful social change.

The 2022 symposium will be the first since last August, when Shelley Padnos and Carol Sarosik expanded their support to establish a full-fledged center, ensuring Grand Valley students will continue learning how to engage in civil discussions on controversial issues.

"We are so grateful to Shelley and Carol for their continued support and dedication to the center," Perhamus, associate professor of educational foundations, said. "They know students may have a difficult time navigating within today's contentious and divisive world. By participating in the symposium or with the center, students can learn how to better understand people and how to respond respectively. This enhances the liberal education they receive at Grand Valley."

Jeff Kelly Lowenstein, associate professor of multimedia journalism, is the center's current endowed professor. He said symposium participants can expect small group discussions, in addition to learning from Givens.

The symposium is presented in partnership with the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies, Division of Inclusion and Equity and the School of Communications.