WMU-Cooley Law School Center for Civil Discourse holds discussion on public dialogue

from local sources

Western Michigan University Cooley Law School’s Center for Civil Discourse co-sponsored a discussion on public dialogue featuring Dr. Laura Black, associate professor of communication studies at Ohio University.

Black’s presentation highlighted practices community members use to articulate conflicting values, manage disagreements, and engage the wider community in difficult dialogue. During the presentation, she explained the role of deliberative catalyst, which helps move discourse from public meeting into other community spaces, which offers personal reflections on the challenges at hand, allowing for more engaged communication about contentious issues.

“Dr. Black gave a moving and inspiring account of her personal experience in working with the Athens, Ohio, City School Board on a contentious issue, as both an expert and a resident of the city and the emotions involved,” said WMU-Cooley Assistant Dean Victoria Vuletich, who directs the law school’s Center for Civil Discourse.

The Feb. 6 presentation was co-sponsored by Western Michigan University’s Center for the Study of Ethics in Society.

The photo on page 1, which is courtesy of WMU-Cooley Law School, shows (left to right), Victoria Vuletich, WMU-Cooley Law School assistant dean and director of the Center for Civil Discourse; Margarita Solis Deal, executive director of the Dominican Center and Center for Civil Discourse steering committee member; Dr. Laura Black, associate professor of communication studies at Ohio University; and Dr. Sandra Borden, WMU professor of communication and director for WMU’s Study of Ethics in Society

The WMU-Cooley Center for Civil Discourse is a broad based community initiative composed of both professionals and students from all sectors, founded when Prof. Vuletich and Grand Rapids attorney Brian Plachta had a chance meeting and discovered they were on the opposite sides of the political divide. The two decided to meet over a cup of coffee and really listen to each other. They eventually realized that one thing they could definitely agree on is the need for America to rediscover the ability to disagree in a productive and civil fashion to survive.

Project partners include the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation, the Center for the Study of Ethics in Society at Western Michigan University; Dominican Center at Marywood; Hauenstein Center at Grand Valley State University; Brooks College of Interdisciplinary Studies at Grand Valley State University; the Gull Lake View Golf Club and Resort.

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