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Institute for Freedom and Community to host symposium on ‘Disagreement’

St. Olaf College’s Institute for Freedom and Community will host a two-day symposium March 31 and April 1 titled Disagreement – a Symposium for Constructive Political Discourse and Inquiry.

InstituteLogoThe symposium, which is free and open to the public, will feature three prominent guest speakers.

“Coarse rhetoric and contemptuous politics are defining features of our times. This symposium, as well as our work on campus through the Institute programs, examines the polarizing incivility of public engagement today and what it would take to have civility in our public debate,” says Dan Hofrenning, the director of the Institute for Freedom and Community and a professor of political science at St. Olaf.

The symposium sessions will begin on Thursday evening, March 31, and continue with two sessions on Friday afternoon.

Mark Kingwell will kick off the symposium with a lecture titled Jerks, Asshats, and the Unstable Politics of Civility that begins at 7 p.m. on March 31 in Tomson Hall 280.

Kingwell, author of A Civil Tongue: Justice, Dialogue, and the Politics of Pluralism as well as several other books and numerous articles on related topics, is a professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto. In his lecture, he will argue that a robust account of civil discourse, rooted in a sense of shared vulnerability, is our only viable path forward.

Jonathan Haidt will deliver a lecture titled What on Earth is Happening to our Country? The Moral Psychology of Political Division that begins at 3 p.m. on April 1 in the Black and Gold Ballrooms of Buntrock Commons.

Haidt will draw from his recent book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion to discuss polarization and politics in the 2016 campaign. Haidt is the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business.

Sarah Sobieraj will complete the series with a lecture titled Extreme Incivility and Political Voice that begins at 4:30 p.m. on April 1 in the Black and Gold Ballrooms of Buntrock Commons. An associate professor of sociology at Tufts University, she is also the author of The Outrage Industry: Political Opinion Media and the New Incivility.

The first two lectures will be streamed and archived on the St. Olaf multimedia site.

About The Institute
The Institute for Freedom and Community was established at St. Olaf in 2015 to encourage free inquiry and meaningful debate of important political and social issues. The Institute programs, including coursework, the Public Affairs Conversation, public affairs internships, and public lectures, aim to challenge assumptions, question easy answers, and foster constructive, respectful dialogue among those with differing values and contending points of view.