More than 75 University community members gathered on February 15 for “Ethically Speaking: Is There Hope for Civil Discourse in America?,” a discussion sponsored by the College of Communication and the Arts with the involvement of the Institute for Communication and Religion (ICR).
The event began with welcoming remarks by Catherine Zizik, associate professor of communication and ICR committee member, on the state of civil discourse in America. Following her remarks, Instructor Angela Kariotis performed “#RealTalk.” After the performance, discussions were facilitated featuring University faculty and students from the College’s Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl team. The event concluded with a discussion led by Dr. Donald McKenna, professor emeritus of communication.
“Speaking ethically is an inherent ‘good’. It’s what we all should aspire to do, however, we are sometimes challenged by intolerance and personal bias,” Zizik said. “This symposium was designed to share and converse about what challenges our abilities to be receptive to civil discourse.”
Kariotis added that she appreciated the support of the College and Institute. “I am proud of the College of Communication and the Arts for investing itself in facilitating an experience on how we treat each other and our ideas in our communication practice,” said Kariotis. “I hope the event challenged the audience to be mindful of their discourse and to be intentional in their interactions.”
The first discussion was on terrorism, Pope Francis, and fake news in the media. This panel was led by Dr. Jon Radwan, associate professor of communication and ICR committee member; Monsignor Dennis Mahon, Ph.D., associate professor of communication and ICR coordinator; and Dr. Anthony Haynor, associate professor of sociology.
The second panel facilitated a discussion on the principles behind charity work, integrity in organizations, and how empathy leads to civil discourse and engagement. This panel featured Dr. Andrew Simon, associate professor of psychology; Dr. Denise Vigani, assistant professor of philosophy; and Paula Franzese, professor of law.
Lastly, a discussion titled “Gazing into the Abyss” about ethical issues and discourse on social media was led by students Karmen Yap and Mark McGuire and Zizik from the College’s Intercollegiate Ethics Bowl team.
“Given the title of the event, Mark and I were honored to present from the perspective of social media,” said Yap. “It is known that social media marks the advancement of communication technology today, but who is responsible for regulating ethical conduct is a question that is worth being discussed. I am grateful that the University provides learning opportunities that inspire me to become a well-rounded global citizen.”
Student panelist McGuire agreed. “I am glad I participated in this event. The relevance of social media and the need to define the ethical responsibilities of users and companies with respect to this domain cannot be understated. I am honored to contribute to this discussion in a productive manner,” said McGuire.
Launched in Fall 2017, the Institute for Communication and Religion provides a nexus for ongoing scholarly exploration of communication topics critically important to religion and society. Under the leadership of Monsignor Mahon and inspired by Nostra Aetate, the Institute enhances the University’s and the College’s sustained leadership in fostering open, clear dialogue and study between religious believers and the broader public in the communication disciplines at the theoretical, professional, and practical levels.
The symposium is the Institute’s latest initiative. The Institute recently hosted curriculum development workshops and its inaugural event, “Speaking Truth: Religion in the News Media”, featuring The Wall Street Journal Columnist William McGurn, was held in Fall 2017. A large-scale, interreligious event is also scheduled for the Spring 2018 semester.
To learn more about the Institute for Communication and Religion, please contact Monsignor Dennis Mahon.