Wayne State University Civil Discourse Initiative - Inaugural Program
A special program for Wayne State University students interested in engaging in civil discourse about important issues.
In the last decade, three monumental events have highlighted the need for a Civil Discourse Initiative on campus. First, following the election of President Trump in 2016, America was awakened to the fact that there is a significant portion of the voting public who are still very socially conservative. Their political voice, which had been dormant for some time, was amplified, and their grievances were addressed by President Trump and his administration. When the legitimacy of the 2020 election was called into question, socio-political polarization deepened and has seeped into every facet of society.
The political events of the last decade have seriously affected how we legitimize and delegitimize information sources. Second, the COVID-19 pandemic caused us to largely retreat from the public sphere for two years. During this time, our youth were asked to engage publicly from behind a screen. The impersonal nature of those interactions has engendered a kind of fragility and caution in the classroom today and for some, face-to-face discourse has become uncomfortable, if not intimidating. The Civil Discourse Initiative provides a space in which students can learn how to discuss controversial topics in person.
Finally, the accelerated development of AI technologies (like ChatGPT) that purport to enhance and improve information communication have made information literacy an immediate and crucial need. Universities now have an even greater instrumental role in developing citizens who are information literate and who are capable of engaging in discourse that leads to understanding across cultures and across value systems.
For these reasons, we are launching a Civil Discourse Initiative for students on campus and want you to be part of it! FIND OUT MORE AT AN INFORMATION SESSION on Friday, September 1 at 11:00am on Zoom. Please use the following link to join the Zoom Information Session:
The program requires your commitment to three in-person workshops at the historic Freer House (71 East Ferry Street) in the Hoobler Room on Tuesday, September 19, Tuesday, October 17 and Tuesday, November 21 from 4pm to 5:30pm. Enter the Freer House by the gate to the left of the front entrance. Walk through the Japanese garden and enter the main house through the doors to the right of the archway. Parking is very limited, so walking to the Freer House from campus is recommended.
Each workshop will begin with a primer on principles for how to have better arguments and at the end of the third workshop, each student will receive a certificate of completion and the important designation of being a WSU Civil Discourse ambassador. As ambassadors, students/alumni will be asked to return in future years to participate in the program as coaches.