The Institute for Freedom and Community Announces Two-Day Symposium with Prominent Speakers and Guests

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“Disagreement – a Symposium for Constructive Political Discourse and Inquiry" to be held at St. Olaf College March 31 and April 1.

The Institute for Freedom and Community
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.

The Institute for Freedom and Community at St. Olaf College announced today that it will host a two-day symposium open to the public titled “Disagreement – a Symposium for Constructive Political Discourse and Inquiry.” The symposium will be held at the college’s Northfield, Minn., campus on March 31 and April 1. It will feature three prominent guest speakers in events free of charge and open to the public.

Director of The Institute and St. Olaf Political Science Professor Dan Hofrenning said, “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.”

The symposium sessions will begin on Thursday evening, March 31, with two sessions on Friday afternoon. Speakers include Mark 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. A professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto, Kingwell 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 draw from his recent book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. He is the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business. His talk will focus on polarization and politics in the 2016 campaign.

Sarah Sobieraj will complete the series with a talk on the connections between extreme incivility and political voice. An associate professor of sociology at Tufts University, she is also the author of The Outrage Industry: Political Opinion Media and the New Incivility.

For more information on the symposium, please call 507-786-3128 or email Dan Hofrenning at dhofrenn(at)stolaf(dot)edu or Shawn Paulson at paulsons(at)stolaf(dot)edu. All events are held at St. Olaf College, located approximately 40 miles south of downtown Minneapolis or downtown St. Paul. The campus is located at 1520 St. Olaf Avenue, Northfield, Minn. 55057. Preregistration is not required.

Mark Kingwell
Thursday, March 31 at 7 p.m.
Tomson Hall Room 280
Professor of Philosophy, University of Toronto
Author of A Civil Tongue: Justice, Dialogue, and the Politics of Pluralism
Kingwell will argue that a robust account of civil discourse, rooted in a sense of shared vulnerability, is our only viable path forward.

Jonathan Haidt
Friday, April 1 at 3 p.m.
Buntrock Commons, Black and Gold Ballrooms
Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership, New York University’s Stern School of Business
Author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion
Drawing from The Righteous Mind, Haidt will focus on polarization and politics in the 2016 campaign.

Sarah Sobieraj
Friday, April 1 at 4:30 p.m.
Buntrock Commons, Black and Gold Ballrooms
Associate Professor of Sociology, Tufts University
Author of The Outrage Industry: Political Opinion Media and the New Incivility
Sobieraj will discuss the connections between extreme incivility and political voice.

About The Institute
The Institute for Freedom and Community was established at St. Olaf College, a private liberal arts college, 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. For more information, go to stolaf.edu/ifc.

About St. Olaf College
One of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges, St. Olaf College offers a distinctive education grounded in academic rigor, residential learning, global engagement, and a vibrant Lutheran faith tradition. By cultivating the habits of mind and heart that enable graduates to lead lives of financial independence, professional accomplishment, personal fulfillment, and community engagement, St. Olaf College provides an uncommon educational experience that fully prepares students to make a meaningful difference in a changing world.

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Kari VanDerVeen
St. Olaf College
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