Mesa Professor Carl Luna moderating the 2016 Restoring Respect event

San Diego Mesa College Professor Carl Luna moderating the 2016 Restoring Respect event.

Annual Restoring Civility to Civic Dialogue Conference Returns April 18 & 19

March 22, 2017 | San Diego Community College District

How can we, the American people, rebuild civility and our sense of common community in the wake of the most divisive election in recent history? That is the question the Institute for Civil Civic Engagement’s is working to address at the sixth annual Conference on Restoring Civility to Civic Dialogue set for April 18 and 19 at the University of San Diego’s Kroc Institute of Peace and Justice.

Mixing panel discussions with workshops on conducting effective civil dialogues and civic engagement, the conference targets community, private sector and government leaders, secondary and post-secondary students, faculty, staff and administrators and all San Diegans interested in discussing and learning strategies to reunite a politically polarized America. The conference is free and open to the public.

This year’s keynote address, A Conversation on Rebuilding Civility in a Divided Nation, is set for April 19 at 9 a.m. and features a discussion with former Republican Congressman Marvin Henry "Mickey" Edwards of Oklahoma’s 5th District and former Democratic Congressman Dan Glickman of Kansas’ 4th District. A Conversation on Rebuilding Civility in a Divided Nation will be moderated by Dr. Carolyn Lukensmeyer, Executive Director at the National Institute for Civil Discourse.

Edwards, who also served as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture under former President Bill Clinton, is the national chairman of the American Conservative Union and the Director of the Aspen Institute-Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership. Glickman is the Vice President and Executive Director of the Aspen Institute Congressional Program. The Aspen Institute is a nonpartisan forum promoting the exchange of ideas that has earned a reputation for gathering a diverse menu of leaders, scholars, and members of the public to address some of the world’s most complex problems.

"Our country is at a critical crossroads," said Mesa College Professor of Political Science and USD visiting Professor Carl Luna, who was instrumental in driving Restoring Respect forward and who serves as Director at the Institute for Civil Civic Engagement. "We either continue down the path of anger and polarization we’ve been marching down for a generation and see continued political dysfunction, public anger and the real dangers of political conflict unraveling our Republic or we engage in a sustained, albeit difficult national conversation about how we can work together as Americans first, political partisans second. We have to restore the “We” to “We the people.” Our annual conference adds the voices of the San Diego community to that discussion.” 

More than 24 panels and workshops on issues of civility in politics, the media and education will be conducted by participants including: the National Institute for Civil Discourse; the San Diego Unified School District’s Family and Community Engagement office; the National Conflict Resolution Center; Independent Voter Communications; the San Diego Diplomacy Council; the San Diego Deliberation Network; California State University San Marcos; Grossmont College; Southwestern College; the Institute for Civil Dialog,  the Civility Center, Washington State University Vancouver; and the University of San Diego’s College of Arts and Sciences, the USD School of Leadership and Educational Sciences, Kroc School of Peace Studies, Changemaker Hub, Associated Students, and the Mulvaney Center for Community Awareness and Social Action. 

Restoring Respect is sponsored by the San Diego Community College District, the University of San Diego & USD College of Arts and Sciences, the National Institute for Civil Discourse,  ICCE, KPBS Radio and Television, the San Diego Foundation and San Diego Gas & Electric. Partners include UCSD, CSUSM, PLNU, the League of Women Voters North County San Diego, and IVC Media.

The conference gets under way April 18 at 9 a.m. with welcome remarks from Noelle Norton, Dean of the USD’s College of Arts and Sciences. Tuesday morning and afternoon will include panels on civility and the media, building civic engagement from the local to the global, approaches to civic engagement and multiple hands-on interactive workshops on different strategies for creating effective civic dialogue.

The plenary session will be on Wednesday, April 19 from 9 a.m. to noon in the University of San Diego’s Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice Theater.  SDCCD Chancellor Constance M. Carroll; University of San Diego President James Harris; the Rev. George Walker Smith, founder of the Catfish Club in San Diego; and KPBS Associate General Manager Nancy Worlie. NCRC President Steven Dinkin will introduce the keynote speakers.  A discussion titled The Role of Higher Education in Rebuilding Civility moderated by Luna will follow.  Panelists include: Stephanie Bulger, the SDCCD’s Vice Chancellor of Instructional Services; Dr. Patricia Prado-Olmos, Vice President, Community Engagement, at Cal State San Marcos; Dr. Nicholas Ladany, Dean, School of Leadership and Educational Sciences, at the University of San Diego; Dr. Jeffrey Carr, Associate Vice President for Student Development at Point Loma Nazarene University; Antionette Marbray, Associate Vice President for Student Affairs at San Diego State University; and Dr. Becky Petitt, Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at UC San Diego. 

Wednesday’s afternoon panels and workshops will focus on the role of education in building community and civic engagement, with panels by college and university leaders, college and high school student leaders and workshops on civic dialogue for high school and college students and the general public.

Registration begins at 8 a.m. both April 18 and April 19. The Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice is at 5998 Alcalá Park on the University of San Diego campus. For more information and to pre-register visit 

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