On March 25 – 27, 2011, participants drawn from such fields as history, political philosophy, political science, law, sociology, journalism, and communications, convened at the National Constitution Center for Can We Talk? A Conversation about Civility and Democracy, to guide public discussion of key themes such as the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, the concept of civic virtue, the importance of dissent and deliberation in America’s constitutional democracy, and the ways in which political actors and the media can contribute to or detract from productive public discourse.
The goals of the forum were, first, to generate a deeper and more nuanced understanding of dissent and civility throughout the American experience, and second, to generate ideas about what kinds of tools, systems, best practices, or other frameworks might contribute to greater civility without impeding the vibrancy of our democracy.
The symposium is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Bridging Cultures program, which awarded grants in August 2010 for a series of national conversations on civility. The Center’s conference is the culminating event of the series. PBS is the official media partner.
Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
During five concurrent breakout sessions, educators, journalists, community leaders, public service workers, and scholarly participants will discuss how to establish civic dialogue that simultaneously advances the common good and respects the voices of protest that often contribute to social progress.
Following the discussion sessions, all participants will come together for a public town hall exchange, moderated by PBS NewsHour’s Hari Sreenivasan. The exchange also will include an audience Q&A session.
Forum participants will brainstorm ways to create and disseminate subsequent programming to engage people in communities nationwide in reflection on, and discussion about, the themes of civility, democracy, and dissent.
Monday - Friday: 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday: 9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday: 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.
525 Arch Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106