News

The Quiet Power of Humility | Peter Wehner at NYTimes

The Quiet Power of Humility

April 15, 2017

“Over breakfast with a social psychologist I know, I asked him what constructive contribution Christians could make to public life. An atheist who finds much to admire in religion, he answered simply: “Humility.”

That is a perfectly reasonable hope. Unfortunately, however, humility is a neglected Christian virtue. This is rather odd, given that humility should be a defining trait of Christians. The resurrection, celebrated by Christians throughout the world on Easter Sunday, was made possible only by an act of unsurpassed humility…”

Read the full piece by Peter Wehner at the NYTimes here.

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

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.

February 7th, Political Theory Series | Nancy Fraser

The Crisis of Care

Nancy Fraser, The New School

  • Paper workshop, 2/7/12, 1:30-3pm. UCHI Conference room, Babbige Library 4th floor.
    Please contact Fred Lee <fred.lee@uconn.edu> for a copy of the paper.

From Exploitation to Expropriation: On Racial Oppression in Capitalist Society

  • Public Lecture, 2/7/17, 3:30-5pm, Class of 1947 Room.

Abstract: Exploitation-centered conceptions of capitalism cannot explain its persistent entanglement with racial oppression. In their place, I suggest an expanded conception that also encompasses an ongoing but disavowed moment of expropriation; in so doing, I disclose (1) the crucial role played in capital accumulation by unfree, dependent labor and (2) the equally indispensable role of politically enforced status distinctions between free, exploitable citizen-workers and dependent, expropriable subjects. Treating such political distinctions as constitutive of capitalist society and as correlated with the “color line,” I demonstrate that the racialized subjection of those whom capital expropriates is a condition of possibility for the freedom of those whom it exploits.

Nancy Fraser is Henry A. and Louise Loeb Professor at the New School for Social Research and is Vice-President and President-Elect of the American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division. She is also Professor II at the Centre for Gender Research at the University of Oslo and holds the Chair in «Global Justice» at the Collège d’études mondiales, Paris. Her most recent books are Domination et anticipation: pour un renouveau de la critique, with Luc Boltanski (2014); Transnationalizing the Public Sphere: Nancy Fraser debates her Critics (2014); and Fortunes of Feminism: From State-Managed Capitalism to Neoliberal Crisis (2013).

Sponsored by the Political Theory Workshop, Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies, Asian/Asian American Studies, Political Science, Philosophy, Sociology, and the University of Connecticut Humanities Institute.

Leaders are more powerful when they’re humble, new research shows, From The Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2016/12/08/leaders-are-more-powerful-when-theyre-humble-new-research-shows/?postshare=4791481405984062&tid=ss_tw&utm_term=.85b4922d43faWhither humility?

For years now, social critics (myself included) have decried a rising tide of American narcissism. We’ve warned against an overpraised, entitled, privileged culture. Get those participation trophies off my lawn! Yet, with the costs of narcissism well-known, some researchers are shifting their focus to narcissism’s antithesis–humility. These scientists want to discover if there are benefits to being humble. For instance, does humility improve academics or relationships or company bottom lines? Earlier this year, on Face the Nation, President-Elect Donald Trump said he was more humble than people knew, but he chose not to show it as a business strategy. Are humble leaders less successful? How might humility affect moral character? What might we lose, living in a less humble world?

Though there’s much research to be done, what scholars have already learned is enough for us to pause on our selfie-sticks and reflect.

Dictionaries often describe humility as low self-esteem, self-degradation and meekness. In a 2016 College of Charleston survey, 56% of 5th and 6th graders said that the humble are embarrassed, sad, lonely or shy. When adults are asked to recount an experience of humility, they often tell a story about a time when they were publicly humiliated.

The most humble rarely describe themselves as humble (that seems arrogant to them), but studies have shown that they aren’t embarrassed, humiliated or ashamed. No, they’re secure in their identity and higher in well-being. The humble are doing just great, thank you very much.

True humility, scientists have learned, is when someone has an accurate assessment of both his strengths and weaknesses, and he sees all this in the context of the larger whole. He’s a part of something far greater than he. He knows he isn’t the center of the universe. And he’s both grounded and liberated by this knowledge. Recognizing his abilities, he asks how he can contribute. Recognizing his flaws, he asks how he can grow.

Humility’s benefits turn out to be surprisingly concrete.

Read full article here

Fake News and the Internet Shell Game, Michael Lynch at the NYTimes | The Stone

November 28, 2016

“Only a few days after the presidential election, the Oxford English Dictionary crowned its international word of the year: post-truth. The dictionary defined it as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” To say that the term captured the zeitgeist of 2016 is a lexigraphical understatement. The word, the dictionary’s editors explained, had “gone from being a peripheral term to being a mainstay in political commentary.” ”

Read the full article here.

Indigenous Refusals of Settler-Capitalist Notions of Precarity and Aging: The Struggle for Indigenous Elsewheres – Sandy Grande

Tuesday, November 15th, 4-5:30pm
UCHI Seminar room (Babbidge Library, 4th Floor, Room 4/209)

Sandy Grande (Quechua) is a Professor of Education as well as the Director of the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE) at Connecticut College.

This talk is part of the Political Theory Seminar Series.

Democracy and Disagreement by Michael Lynch at UConn Today

““The best lack all conviction,” William Butler Yeats noted, “while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” Rarely has the Irish poet’s famous warning against the perils of dogmatism seemed more apt. As a nation, we are so deeply divided that our disagreements extend past values, past even the facts, to the very meaning of what a fact is. As a result, many in the United States believe there is no point in talking to the other side. Why bother, when you already know you are right and they are wrong?”

Read the full story at UConn Today.

“Democratic Rehab” by Scott F. Aiken and Robert B. Talisse at 3Quarks Daily

Monday, November 07, 2016

“When we tell people that we write about logic and politics, we let our interlocutors make the big joke. There is no logic in politics! It’s a funny joke, for sure. But it’s also tragic. And the tragedy is double-barreled. First, good reasons should be behind decision making. Without good reasoning, policy will likely be an irrational hash. There may be no logic in politics, but there ought to be. Second, the politics referred to in the quip is the politics of our democracy. And in a democracy what’s true of the politics is often true of the participants. This includes not only the candidates, politicians, lobbyists, and media personalities, but the citizens as well. And it’s hard to deny that we, the democratic citizens, are not users of logic when it comes to politics. The joke’s on us.”

– Read the full article here at 3Quarks Daily