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From Conflict to Peace: The Role of Art | Kenneth Best | UConn Today

"Memorials commemorating a nation’s past conflicts can help to build a more peaceful future when created to serve as symbolic reparations for victims of human rights violations, according to two UConn professors working to improve how such memorials can serve as a central framework in the transition from conflict to peace.

Robin Greeley and Michael Orwicz, art history professors in the School of Fine Arts, say that without great care in developing them, memorials to human rights violations can be ineffective in strengthening civil society and moving people toward a more peaceful and inclusive future."

Read the full article here at UConn Today.


Saving Civility We’ll need high doses of humility, conviction, and passion. Stat! By Michael Lynch, philosophy professor and director of the Humanities Institute

“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. We are so deeply divided in this country 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?

Democracies need passionate citizens. Without conviction, nothing gets done — either personally or politically. But we also need to listen to one another. That means more than just being civil or polite. Really listening means being open to the possibility that we could learn something from those with differing views, that our views can always improve, that we don’t know it all. That’s a kind of humility — what researchers call intellectual or cognitive humility.

Read the full story at UConn Magazine


Grants Target Broken Landscape of American Discourse

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 UConn 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.

The Humanities Institute hosts the project on Humility and Conviction in Public Life, with goals that include investigating the nature of productive dialogue over morality, science, and religion as well as looking at what may thwart the meaningful exchange of ideas and how we might overcome these barriers by investigating the role of intellectual humility in public discourse.

Read the full story at UConn Today.

Humility in Politics

Panelists and moderators from the Humility in Politics forum at the Folger Shakespeare Theater was held on Tuesday, September 20, 2016 in Washington, DC Photos by GH Studios. © Garrett Hubbard 2016

“Humility In Politics” Event Kicks Off UConn’s Public Discourse Research Project

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


The Danger of ‘American Exceptionalism’

"Over the last month, there has been a steady drumbeat of talk about America's "greatness" – whether it was making it great again (Donald Trump) or already being the greatest country on Earth (the Obamas and Hillary Clinton). Yet what does it really mean to say America is "great" – now or in the future? Not surprisingly, it depends whom you ask: their politics, their views on the health of the economy and so on. But differences on the meaning of "greatness" go deeper as well and often concern a single idea that is of increasing national importance: American Exceptionalism." - Michael Lynch at USNews.

Read the full story at USNews.


Trump, Truth and the Power of Contradiction

"Consistency, Emerson said, is the hobgoblin of little minds. Perhaps no one in American public life channels this thought more than Donald J. Trump. He not only doesn’t fear contradiction, he embraces it. And he is downright scornful of those little minds that are bothered by his performances." - Michael Lynch on Donald Trump, truth, and contradiction at The Stone.

Read the full article at the NYTimes.


Moving the Conversation Forward

Middle and high school teachers participating in the Upstander Academy are learning how to use human rights education to discuss complex historical and current issues in productive ways.

Read more at UConn Today.


UConn Invests $10 Million in Support of Academic Vision

The University is investing in a slate of new initiatives to enhance research and education, consistent with its Academic Vision.

Read more at UConn Today.

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$5.75 Million Grant to Focus on Improving Public Discourse

The UConn Humanities Institute has received a $5.75 million grant from the Templeton Foundation for its project on public discourse. The project will examine the role that traits such as humility and open-mindedness can play in meaningful public discourse, with the hope of promoting healthier and more constructive discussion about divisive issues in religion, science, and politics.

Read more at UConn Today.