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Civil discourse symposium focuses on immigrants

  • A photo of panelists.
  • A photo of Jack Mangala, endowed professor of civil discourse
  • A photo of Elizabeth Arnold

Posted on November 07, 2017

The fourth annual Padnos/Sarosik Civil Discourse Symposium addressed the opportunities and challenges that immigrants and refugees bring to a community.

The November 2 event at the Eberhard Center was organized by Jack Mangala, endowed professor of civil discourse. The topic coincided with his course, "Immigration: Think Global, Act Local."

Panelists were Mladjo Ivanovic, visiting professor of philosophy whose research focuses on the forceful displacement and migration of people; Steffanie Rosalez, program director for the Grandville Avenue Arts and Humanities, Cook Arts Center, who works with children from immigrant families; and Kristine Van Noord, program manager for Bethany Christian Services’ Refugee Adult & Family Programs.

They discussed the ideology behind working within a humanities field. Ivanovic mentioned the issue of the Western world’s justification of objectifying refugees. 

“It’s very dangerous to see these people as those without agency, these are people with aspirations,” he said.

Rosalez said she has worked to avoid the selfish notion that helping people is something that will help her feel better about her work.

“I don’t feel like my job is to help people, I feel like it’s to get to know them and let them get to know me,” Rosalez said.

The next endowed professor of civil discourse was introduced at the event. Elizabeth Arnold, associate professor of anthropology, will teach a course, "Civil Discourse on Climate Change: Civil Conversations and Collaboration for Our Future," in the fall 2018 semester. She will also plan a symposium.

For more information about the civil discourse program, visit

— written by Marissa LaPorte, student writer