Ohio University Focuses on Cultivating Civil Dialogue with New Lecture Series

March 15, 2019
Red brick building with white spire against blue sky and behind long stretch of green grass. Red brick buildings on the left and right sides of frame, with several trees and bushes scattered around the green and in front of the buildings.

We are happy to share that M Duane Nellis, president of Ohio University, announced in the Columbus Dispatch the launch of a new lecture series: OHIO Challenging Dialogues for Contemporary Issues. The series was created with the goal of giving students the tools to engage in civil and respectful dialogue, even where disagreement is deep and the subject matter is sensitive.

These are the same goals that motivated the Ohio State University Center for Ethics and Human Values to create the COMPAS (Conversations on Morality, Politics, and Society) Program.  A unique feature of the COMPAS Program is that it goes beyond a call for civil and respectful dialogue to actually model this sort of dialogue about contentious issues. Even when people have the necessary skills, it can be difficult to deploy them in an environment of skepticism about the prospects for civility and respect. COMPAS aims to show that this skepticism is unwarranted; respectful dialogue between people with opposing viewpoints on a controversial topic is possible, and it is essential if we are to meet the challenges that face us. Since the first COMPAS, focusing on the complex issue of immigration, the COMPAS program has taken up the challenge of leading civil and informed conversations on some of the most controversial issues that confront our society.