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29th April Encounters series. Join community members in critical small group discussion about the U.S. Constitution.

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Join community members in critical small group discussion about the U.S. Constitution.

The Encounters series is a public discussion program created by a partnership with the Hartford History Center at Hartford Public Library, UConn’s Humanities Institute, and the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art. The partners provide discussion leaders to engage in topics aimed at strengthening our ability to know ourselves and one another through respectful and challenging dialogue.

For more information about the Encounters series visit our page.

Please read the U.S. Constitution prior to the event: http://constitutionus.com/

Hartford History Center
500 Main St, Hartford, Connecticut 06103

National Issues Forum: Moderator Training Interested in supporting democratic dialogue and deliberation? Learn to be a National Issues Forum Moderator!

National Issues Forum

In partnership with the Dodd Center, and E.O. Smith High School, Humility & Conviction in Public Life hosted a National Issues Forum (NIF) Moderator Training designed to introduce participants to the concepts, skills, and issues associated with moderating and recording public deliberations that could facilitate intellectually humble dialogue. This was followed by a forum with students and faculty from E.O. Smith High School. Run by Glenn Mitoma (Dodd Center), and planned in collaboration with Joe Goldman (E.O. Smith) and Brendan Kane (HCPL), the forum considered the issues of food justice and security, making use of the brand new NIF Guide:Land of Plenty: How Should We Ensure that People Have the Food They Need?.pdf


There were over 130 E.O. Smith students, and was facilitated by UConn undergrads, graduate students, staff, and UConn and E.O. Smith faculty.

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José Casanova on “Religious Conviction and Intellectual Humility in Public Life: Socio-Theological Reflections”, 4:00-5:30pm, April 21

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Keynote Address

Jose CasanovaJosé Casanova, Georgetown University

Keynote address: 4:00-5:30pm, April 21st (reception to follow)

Religious Conviction and Intellectual Humility in Public Life: Socio-Theological Reflections

What does it mean to have a religious conviction in our global secular age? Why is it necessary that when we enter public life, even if motivated by deeply held religious convictions, our public interventions ought to be informed by intellectual humility? In addressing these questions I will proceed with the assumption that our age is characterized by profound religious, cultural and moral pluralism, that requires that we encounter the other with deep intellectual humility and respect. Precisely because not truths or convictions but persons have rights, each person has the inalienable right to seek the truth and to hold his/her convictions publicly. I will ground my reflections on the historical experiences of the Jesuits as pioneer globalizers in the early modern age, and on the deeds and words of the Jesuit Pope Francis.  The Jesuits combined a deep religious conviction as global missionaries with a peculiar openness, controversial at their time, to accommodate other cultures and to enter into deep intercultural encounters, what Pope Francis calls the “culture of the encounter.”

José Casanova is Professor of Sociology, Theology and Senior Fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University, where he heads the Program on Religion, Globalization, and the Secular. He is also a Professorial Fellow at Australian Catholic University, in Melbourne, where he directs a project on Asian/Pacific Catholicism and Globalization. Previously he served as Professor of Sociology at the New School for Social Research in New York and has held visiting appointments at numerous American and European universities. He has published widely in the areas of sociological theory, religion and politics, transnational migration, and globalization. His best-known work, Public Religions in the Modern World (Chicago, 1994) has become a modern classic in the field and has been translated into various languages, including Japanese, Arabic, and Turkish, and is forthcoming in Indonesian, Farsi, and Chinese. Presently he holds the Kluge Chair for Societies and Cultures of the Northern Hemisphere at the Library of Congress, where he is writing a book on “The Jesuits and Globalization.” He is also the recipient of the 2012 Salzburger Hochschulwochen Theological Prize.

Talk by John Duffy (Notre Dame). Radical Humilities: Post-Truth, Ethics, and the Teaching of Writing

April 7, 12:00-1:30 PM

Student Union 330 (Student Union Ballroom) Annual Conference on the Teaching of Writing

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The notion of “post-truth,” declared by the editors of Oxford Dictionaries as the 2016 international word of the year and “one of the defining words of our time,” speaks to the social and cultural trends in which there is no widely shared agreement as to the nature of a fact, or what counts as factual evidence, or how to interpret what evidence may be presented. The result is a polarized public discourse in which the meaning of such terms as truthfulness, accountability, open-mindedness, and intellectual integrity seem increasingly out of reach.

In his talk, John Duffy of the University of Notre Dame explores what it means to be an ethical writer in an age of “post-truth” and the indispensable role of of teachers of writing in addressing the fractured condition of public argument in the United States

TED 2017. Michael P. Lynch Director of the Humanities Institute and Philosopher. Wednesday, April 26.

TED 2017

TED2017: A week to explore the most pressing questions of our time. In these mainstage sessions (including one in Spanish) we’ll ask – and try to answer – the big questions of the moment.


Wednesday, April 26

8:30AM – 10:15AM PDT

See Complete program


Michael Patrick Lynch examines truth, democracy, public discourse and the ethics of technology in the age of big data.

Michael Patrick Lynch is a writer and professor of philosophy at the University of Connecticut, where he directs the Humanities Institute. His work concerns truth, democracy, public discourse and the ethics of technology. Lynch is the author or editor of seven books, including The Internet of Us: Knowing More and Understanding Less in the Age of Big Data, In Praise of Reason: Why Rationality Matters for Democracy, Truth as One and Many and the New York Times Sunday Book Review Editor’s pick, True to Life.

The recipient of the Medal for Research Excellence from the University of Connecticut’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, he is The Principal Investigator for Humility & Conviction in Public Life, a $7 million project aimed at understanding and encouraging meaningful public discourse funded by the John Templeton Foundation and the University of Connecticut. He’s a frequent contributor to the New York Times “The Stone” blog.

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March 28th, 2017. The Public Discourse Project Seminar: Robert Ingram (Ohio University)

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Reformation Without End: Religion, Politics and the Past, Then and Now.
 
This talk considers polemical divinity in Enlightenment England and its potential relevance for public debate today. The talk explains why we should think of the English Enlightenment not as the first chapter in the story of secular modernity but rather as a late chapter in the story of the Reformation. In addition, it considers how conceiving of England’s Enlightenment in that way might help us to think differently about public discourse today.
Babbidge Library, 4th Floor, Room 4/209

February 28th, 2017. The Public Discourse Project Seminar: Maura Priest

Title: Epistemic Greed

Maura Priest

Abstract: My paper argues that epistemologists and ethicists have overlooked the importance of a dangerous vice (epistemic greed). I explain what this vice is and why it is a problem. In so doing my paper sheds light on the following questions: Is the behavior of epistemic elites, (a) really much different from billionaires discussing expensive wines on a millionaire dollar yacht, and (b) do epistemic elites have the same sort of (imperfect) obligation to share in their epistemic wealth as the rich have to share in their economic wealth?

Babbidge Library, 4th Floor, Room 4/209

10 Projects, 1 Audacious Goal: Find Solutions to Help Cultivate Healthier Debate and Dialogue in America

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UConn’s Humility and Conviction in Public Life project announces $2 million in fellowship grants for projects that will delve into newsrooms, classrooms and the halls of Congress

 
Storrs, Conn. – A new $2 million fellowship grant program sponsored by the University of Connecticut’s Humanities Institute and funded by the John Templeton Foundation will support 10 innovative projects that explore the broken landscape of American discourse and create enduring strategies to spur and sustain open-minded, reasonable and well-informed debate and dialogue.
 
The 10 interdisciplinary research projects focus on balancing two key features of democracy: intellectual humility and conviction of belief. Carefully curated out of an applicant pool of 110, not only for their individual merits, but also because they work in complementary fashion, each project will investigate how networks and institutions meant to connect us may be pushing people apart.
 
“Arrogance is easy in politics; humility is hard. These projects aim to rekindle the sense that we can learn from each other, and thus to help us restore a more meaningful public discourse,” says Michael P. Lynch, director of the Humanities Institute and Principal Investigator of the Humility and Conviction in Public Life project.
 
The research awards, ranging from $160,000 to $225,000, provide a substantial two-year fellowship to each grantee for an ambitious project that will put cutting-edge research to work on improving and revitalizing public discourse. In aggregate, the projects will not only examine how intellectual humility does or does not manifest in public discourse, but will also promote and assess humility at the individual and institutional levels. 
 
Here are the thorny issues and pressing questions the grantees will tackle:
 
Defusing Extreme Views: What makes us argue so heatedly over things we know little about?
Phillip Fernbach of the University of Colorado, Boulder, and his team will look at how we can improve public discourse not by turning laypeople into experts, but rather by making people aware of the causes of extremism and ignorance.
 
Encouraging Democracy in Action: How can we make communication between elected officials and their constituents more constructive and meaningful?
Ryan Kennedy of the University of Houston and his team will work with 16 congressional offices to study how an online tool that encourages deliberation might help constituents and their representatives arrive at common ground solutions.
 
Tackling Caustic News Site Comments: Can online news comments sections be designed to promote intellectually humble discourse?
Graham Smith of the University of Westminster, UK, and his research team will look for technical solutions that make comments sections more conducive to intellectually humble discourse. The researchers will test the potential of the solutions by recruiting people who usually read online news and randomly assigning them to different types of comments forums.
 
Dismantling Echo Chambers: Which online platforms best foster public discourse, and how can we improve them?
Mark Alfano of Delft University of Technology, Netherlands, and his research team will study how content flows in online communication networks and the interpersonal dynamics that influence online conversations about fraught issues.
 
Leaving ‘Expert Opinion’ to the Experts: Can people become more receptive to expert opinion?
David Dunning of the University of Michigan, Nathan Ballantyne of Fordham University, and team will look at how people interact with expert opinion and work to make people more receptive to it.
 
How Faith and Humility Can Coexist: Are religious convictions incompatible with intellectual humility?
Elizabeth Krumrei Mancuso and her team will examine whether people of strong religious faith can be intellectually humble, and if not, will assess what biblical and non-biblical evidence might be effective in boosting their intellectual humility in public discourse.
 
Groupthink and Humility: How can groups and institutions become more humble and open to dialogue?
Benjamin R. Meagher of Franklin & Marshall College and Wade C. Rowatt of Baylor University will investigate how intellectual humility influences group performance and how groups can act with intellectual humility.
 
Humility on Campus: Can we teach students to engage in more productive dialogue?
John Sarrouf of Boston nonprofit Essential Partners and his team will develop new teaching strategies for promoting intellectual humility and constructively engaging differences in academia.
 
A Healthier Q&A: Can asking the right questions make political discussion more productive?
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong of Duke University and his team will work to determine which questions, and which contexts, produce humility and civility in public discourse and which produce polarization and inflexibility, with the ultimate goal of finding ways to promote a culture of democratically engaged inquiry.
 
Eliminating the Shouting Match: How can we discourage arrogance in politics and public discourse?
Alessandra Tanesini of Cardiff University and her team will design and test practical interventions designed to combat the growth of pugilistic behaviors in public discussions, such as shouting, mocking, dismissing and rudely interrupting others. 
 
The Humility and Conviction in Public Life project supports interdisciplinary research and outreach on the nature of productive dialogue about morality, science and religion. Detailed information on each grantee can be found at http://humilityandconviction.uconn.edu/awards/. For media inquiries, please contact Justine Morgan, morgan@teamsubjectmatter.com.

From the community Hartford Public Library, UConn and Atheneum Launch Encounters, A New Discussion Series, Feb. 4

What’s in a name? The creation of the United States of America made us a democracy and a republic. That creation story and the players in it are very much with us. “Hamilton,” is one of the biggest Broadway hits and presents founders Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr as flesh and blood men. With their flashes of brilliance and crippling personal deficits they invent a new government.
Politics has occupied public attention for the past year as we elected a new U.S. president. So a deeper dive into documents created by our founders is especially timely.
The Hartford History Center at Hartford Public Library, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, and the University of Connecticut’s Humanities Institute, are launching a community engagement partnership with a new discussion series called Encounters. The partners will provide discussion leaders to engage in topics aimed at strengthening our ability to know ourselves and one another through respectful and challenging dialogue. This February and March, Encounters will focus on the fundamental documents that define our democracy.

go to the full article

“Humility In Politics” Event Kicks Off UConn’s Humility & Conviction in Public Life project

On Tuesday September 20, 2016, Humility and Conviction in Public Life celebrated its formal launch with “Humility in Politics,” a night of conversation and celebration including panelists David Brooks, of the New York Times, NPR’s Krista Tippett, New Yorker columnist Jelani Cobb and Washington University’s Liz McCloskey .
The Humility in Politics forum was held at the Folger Shakespeare Theater in Washington, DC .

‘Humility and vulnerability are no longer values that are rewarded in the political arena, and it’s up to individuals, and their relationships, to begin a sea change that could “trickle up” into political leadership.’

Read the full story here