Promoting the Habits and Skills of Civil Discourse

How can we help students develop the skills necessary for, and habits of, civil discourse across difference and about difficult topics?  In winter term 2018 three Convocation speakers offered the opportunity for our community to consider how to engage in discourse across difference — Yuval Levin, a leading conservative intellectual, Arno Michaelis, a former leader of a racist skinhead organization, and Daryl Davis, a black man who journeyed into the KKK. How might we use the presence of speakers on campus to bring difficult conversations into our courses or to help students build a better understanding of how to engage in civil discourse? How do we create learning environments that encourage students (and faculty) to move beyond fear of saying the “wrong” thing in the current call-out culture and engage in constructive dialog to enhance understanding. As faculty how do we prepare for and manage the difficult moments that inevitably arise?