The Silfen Forum Event Information
Irvine Auditorium | TBD
"Civil Discourse in Uncivil Times"
The Silfen Forum 2020
Is there something seriously wrong with public debate in America? And, if so, can the problem be remedied? Join President Gutmann and Penn Professor Michael Delli Carpini as they and a panel of distinguished guests confront these and other questions at the 2020 David and Lyn Silfen University Forum.
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We live in an age when politicians hurl vitriol at one another across the debate stage, pundits spew rage-filled rants on cable television, and ordinary citizens engage in anonymous, ad-hominem attacks on social media.
A 2018 national poll found that more than 90% of American adults believe that incivility in the public square is a problem, with 7 of 10 describing this problem as “serious” and nearly three quarters indicating that incivility is on the rise. The decline of civility in the United States, a phenomenon acutely apparent in the political arena, has far-reaching implications and negative consequences for our nation. Research by leading political scientists suggests that incivility can lower trust in governments, reduce faith in institutions, and lessen respect for opposing viewpoints.
Ten years ago, Penn President Amy Gutmann and a panel of prominent experts confronted the essential question: Is there something seriously wrong with public debate in America? And, if so, can the problem be remedied? A decade later, many of the same questions remain. What are the causes of the current state of public discourse? The consequences? Is informed civil discourse possible in a period of contentious political polarization? How can we — communities, higher education institutions, elected officials — better strike a balance between open expression and civility? Is incivility ever justified? Can robust debate and disagreement occur in ways that are passionate yet civil and informed? Are there ways to encourage and facilitate such debate? What role does higher education play? What can voters do to demand respect and civil discourse from candidates and elected officials? Can we repair our system of politics so that civil debate is the expectation and not the exception?
Join President Gutmann and Penn Professor Michael Delli Carpini as they and a panel of distinguished guests confront these and other questions at the 2020 David and Lyn Silfen University Forum, “Civil Discourse in Uncivil Times.”