Author Sara Hacala addresses role of civility and Common Theme Project

Sara Hacala, author of Saving Civility: 52 Ways to Tame Rude, Crude, and Attitude for a Polite Planet, will be on campus to meet with students, faculty and staff Nov. 13 and 14 as a guest of the IUPUI Common Theme Project.

Hacala will present a lecture entitled “From Me to We: Discovering our Common Ground” to the students, faculty, and staff of IUPUI at 1:30 to 2:30 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 13th in 450 Campus Center. This event is also open to the public. There will be ample time for discussion and questions as a part of the event. Barns & Noble will hold a book signing (with books available for purchase) after the presentation.

Hacala will facilitate a workshop on “Our Civil Discourse – A Vital Element for our Human Sustainability” for faculty and staff from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 14, in 450 Campus Center. This workshop is co-sponsored by the IUPUI Office for Intergroup Dialogue and Civil Community and the Common Theme Project.

The IUPUI Common Theme, “Find your Voice: Hear My Voice,” invites IUPUI students, staff, faculty, and the community to engage in a two-year discussion and deeper exploration of civil discourse in the classroom, work place and public sphere. This theme will provide opportunities for rich conversation across the campus and our communities on communicating about diverse viewpoints in ways that validate our shared humanity and connection.

For more information about Hacala’s visit, contact E. Jane Luzar at ejluzar@iupui.edu.

Trayvon Martin case sparks public IUPUI Dialogue Series

The Florida case involving the 2012 fatal shooting of an unarmed African American youth and the gunman’s acquittal in July proved a social tinder box for racial issues in America.

Diversity leaders on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus have organized a series of public meetings, four dialogue sessions and two town hall meetings built around the high-profile case.

The leaders say the very strands of discord sparked by the Martin case make it a great learning tool. Their hopes are the six meetings will encourage people, particularly students, to engage in civil discourse when faced with hot-button issues.

“It is easy to engage civilly on conversations over matters for which we agree,” said Daniel Griffith, director of the IUPUI Intergroup Dialogue Group, one of the series co-sponsors. “The need for civil discourse is especially important for conversations over matters for which there is significant disagreement and strong emotion. Without civil discourse, where conversation becomes strident and negative, the opportunity for learning and the chance for increasing understanding and finding common ground will be lost.”

The public meetings, titled “A Dialogue Series on Race, Politics and the Pursuit of Justice: America After Trayvon Martin,” kick off with a town hall meeting from 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 24, in the auditorium of Hine Hall, formerly the University Place Conference Center, 850 W. Michigan St.

According to Wayne Hilson, the interim director of the IUPUI Multicultural Success Center and director of Multicultural Academic Relations, the series is a prime example of the spirit of the IUPUI 2013-15 Common Theme, “Find Your Voice and Hear My Voice.”

“People seem to have increasing difficulty speaking to one another about serious matters in a civilized manner,” Hilson said. “We think it’s vital that our young people learn how to engage in productive, positive discourse, even on issues that can be divisive or uncomfortable.”

Hilson and the other organizers are hopeful that participants from various ethnic and racial backgrounds will attend and not just those who might empathize more with Martin because of their own racial or ethnic backgrounds.

“This is for everyone,” Hilson said. “Any true dialogue begins with a willingness to come and learn some things. These meetings will be a safe place to share one’s opinion regardless of what side of the fence you are on.”

The IUPUI Multicultural Success Center, the IUPUI Intergroup Dialogue Group and various academic units are co-sponsors of the series.

Following are the dates, times, locations and topics of the sessions:

  • Oct. 31, Dialogue Session 1: “Legal Aspects + Implications of the Trayvon Martin Case,” featuring IU McKinney School of Law faculty and legal experts from the greater Indianapolis community, 6 to 8 p.m., Room 132, Hine Hall
  • Nov. 7, Dialogue Session 2: “The Impact of Social Injustice: The History and Impact of Profiling,” featuring faculty from the Department of Africana Studies in the School of Liberal Arts, 6 to 8 p.m., Room 132, Hine Hall.
  • Nov. 12, Dialogue Session 3: “Being Stopped by the Police or Others: Managing Confrontation, Avoiding Conflict,” featuring IU Police Department officers and representatives from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, 6 to 8 p.m., Presidents Room, The Tower, formerly the University Place Hotel.
  • Nov. 21, Dialogue Session 4: “Cultivating Positive Change on Campus and in the Classroom,” featuring faculty from the Department of Psychology in the Purdue School of Science and the IU School of Education, 6 to 8 p.m., Room 132, Hine Hall.
  • Dec. 5, Town Hall Meeting: Closing session, 6 to 9 p.m., Hine Hall Auditorium.

IUPUI’s 2013-15 Common Theme Project focuses on civil discourse

The topic of IUPUI’s 2013-15 Common Theme Project is “Find Your Voice: Hear My Voice,” commencing a two-year effort to promote campus unity, conversation and collaboration around the topic of civil discourse.

Common Theme invites IUPUI students, staff, faculty and the community to engage in a discussion and deeper exploration of civil discourse in the classroom, work place and public sphere. Among the books recommended for the new Common Theme Project is “Saving Civility: 52 Ways to Tame Rude, Crude & Attitued for a Polite Planet” by Sarah Hacala.

The 2013-15 Common Theme Project will be led by Khadija Khaja, associate professor at the School of Social Work under the direction of Jane Luzar, dean of the IUPUI Honors College.

Every two years, a new common theme is selected along with a faculty fellow to lead this process who works in partnership with an active steering committee. The 2009-2011 theme was “Change Your World: The Power of New Ideas.”

The “Find Your Voice: Hear My Voice” theme will provide opportunities for rich discourse across the campus and community on communicating about diverse viewpoints in ways that validate shared humanity and connection.

Cross-campus discussions and events will highlight positive ways of communication to deal with complex situations and conflicts students face in their daily lives to better equip them to succeed in the workforce, make them better community citizens and ensure that they reach their full potential in our globally connected digital world.

The theme of civil discourse will be advanced through joint panels at interdisciplinary campus wide forums; collaboration with community organizations on workshops that are open to the public; showing of films; suggestions of different books that instructors can use in their classrooms to support the common theme; on site events in campus dorms; invitation of a national speaker; and research across the campus.