IUPUI Common Themes Project Brings Author Phil Cousineau to Campus

IUPUI Common Theme Project

IUPUI Common Theme Project

Phil Cousineau, writer, teacher, editor, independent scholar, documentary filmmaker, travel leader, and storyteller, will be coming to the IUPUI Campus Center on November 19 as part of the IUPUI’s Common Theme Project. He lectures frequently on a wide range of topics–from mythology, film, and writing, to beauty, travel, sports, and creativity. He has written more than 30 nonfiction books and 15 scripts. Cousineau is currently the host and co-writer of Global Spirit, a cross-cultural and transnational television series which premiered on PBS stations in summer 2012. The program explores global issues ranging from sacred music and spiritual activism, to the search for ecstatic experience, forgiveness, and attitudes toward death and dying. Additionally, Cousineau is currently crafting a new nonfiction work on beauty and a young adult novel about baseball.

Cousineau will be discussing Beyond Forgiveness, Reflections on Atonement: Healing the Past, Making Amends, and Restoring Balance in Our Lives and World, the next Common Theme book and is recommended to all students around the 2013-15 theme of civil discourse. It was also recently selected by the Pentagon to be given to all veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The event, at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 19, at the IUPUI Campus Center, Room 450, is free and open to the public.

Visit the companion website to Beyond Forgiveness, and share your own story of forgiveness and atonement.

About IUPUI Common Theme Project

Theme 2013-2015: Find Your Voice and Hear My Voice: Creating Civil Conversation

The vision of the Common Theme is to initiate more engaged and thoughtful conversations about national and global issues. This theme and its cross-campus discussions and events will highlight positive ways of communication that deal with complex situations and conflicts that students, faculty, and staff 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. This Common Theme will provide opportunities for rich discourse across the campus and our communities on communicating about diverse viewpoints in ways that validate our shared humanity, common purpose and connection.

Common Theme filling essential purpose for a focus on tough issues

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2013-15 Common Theme, “Find Your Voice: Hear My Voice.”

For Jane Luzar and Khadija Khaja, “respectful conversation and dialogue” is the glue that holds a large college campus together even when views are completely different.

That’s what they envisioned for the Common Theme at IUPUI, launched a year ago to help the campus deal with issues that could lead to polarized discourse in teaching and learning climates.

Khaja is a faculty member from the School of Social Work and the Academic Affairs Faculty Fellow responsible for the 2013-15 Common Theme, “Find Your Voice: Hear My Voice.”

Khaja facilitates the program, working closely with mentor Dean Jane Luzar of Honors College, the director of project, and an interdisciplinary collaboration of Common Theme steering committee faculty, staff, community members and students.

There are numerous events planned for 2014-15, but the two most significant on this year’s Common Theme calendar include keynote talks by the distinguished Rev. Harold Good on September 10 and by author/filmmaker Phil Cousineau on Nov. 19. Cousineau wrote “Beyond Forgiveness, Reflections on Atonement: Healing the Past, Making Amends, and Restoring Balance in our Lives and World.”

For Luzar, Common Theme fills a vital role campus role.

“We wanted to develop a way for our campus to discuss important issues without them getting bogged down in politics or personalities,” Luzar said. “Common Theme helps achieve that goal.”

Luzar is convinced that IUPUI is on the right track to encourage a free flow of ideas and generate thought, particularly among students. For example, she said, Good is known for helping shepherd Northern Ireland in a direction toward fewer guns and a peace agreement among previously warring factions.

“If you think about it, that’s a rather timely subject for those of us in Indianapolis,” Luzar said, referring to the escalating number of shootings and murders in our city. She is hopeful that Good’s commitment to peace, justice and reconciliation might rub off on guests attending Good’s IUPUI appearance.

Campus reaction to Common Theme events has been solid, the Honors College official noted.

Khaja and co-investigators Kathy Grove, Dan Griffith and Ian McIntosh led 33 focus groups to help discover when discussions tended to break down. “It was clear that students, faculty, staff and some community members wanted more cross-campus conversations,” she said.

For example “we heard all the time that faculty didn’t feel comfortable expressing themselves or their opinions in class because they worried that some students would penalize them for being too conservative or too liberal,” Luzar noted. “And we heard the same things from some students about faculty reaction.”

The focus groups identified a wide array of hot-button issues, including bullying and cyber-bullying, race, religion, sexual identity and many more.

Events and workshops have been well attended to try and address some of the issues. But it can be difficult to measure the value of a program like Common Theme can be, Luzar said.

The project is drawing wide interest. The collaboration between Common Theme and the Office for Intergroup Dialogue and Civil Community will be discussed at this month’s annual conference and expo of the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources. And the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks invited Khaja to speak on lessons learned and how to implement such a program.

“Khaja’s research has helped us find ways to get schools otherwise siloed to work together and focus on key topics,” Luzar said. “That’s useful to building our campus community.”

by Ric Burrous

Rev. Harold Good to speak on peace in Northern Ireland and Indianapolis roots

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The Rev. Harold Good

INDIANAPOLIS — The Rev. Harold Good, an internationally renowned peacemaker, will be at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis on Sept. 10 to speak about Indianapolis and the road to peace in Northern Ireland.

As former president of the Methodist Church in Ireland, Good played a key role in Northern Ireland’s peacemaking process.

The lecture, at 1 p.m. in the Lilly Auditorium of University Library, is free and open to the public.

“Rev. Good is in a unique position to speak about issues of peace, justice and reconciliation,” said Robert White, chair of the Department of Sociology in the IU School of Liberal Arts. “Along with the late Father Alec Reid, Rev. Good was one of two members of the clergy trusted enough by paramilitaries that he was asked to witness the final decommissioning of weapons of the Provisional Irish Republican Army in 2005.”

A native of Ireland, Good spent several years in Indianapolis as a student and pastor before returning to Ireland in the 1970s.

Good has demonstrated a lifetime commitment to peace, justice and reconciliation. During his time as Methodist Church leader, Good joined Northern Ireland’s other main church leaders to press for peace and engage in talks with U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair. Known for his ministry on the streets of Northern Ireland, Good displayed both physical and spiritual courage in working to reconcile the Protestant and Catholic communities, and urging the end to violent action and reaction.

The lecture is sponsored by the IUPUI Common Theme on Civil Discourse, the Office of International Affairs, the Sociology Department of the IU School of Liberal Arts, IUPUI Honors College, and the Methodist Church of Indiana and Christian Theological Seminary.

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.

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.