ND online series to explore business’ role in combating civil polarization

Author: Carol Elliott

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During the past decade, two trends have collided: Polarization in our society has steadily increased in its breadth and severity, and business leaders have been asked to take a more active role in society’s issues. A critical question arises: Can business be a force for good to combat polarization and find the common ground?

The University of Notre Dame will host a three-part online series, Civil Discourse: Becoming a Better Conversation Partner, to explore the question through robust discussions held at 12 p.m. ET on Sept. 17, Oct. 1 and Oct. 15. The series will focus on improving civil discourse and strengthening an individual’s ability to speak and listen with empathy in both public and private, and explore tools, frameworks and mindsets to establish common ground with others.

The first session, “What is the Role of Business to Reduce Polarization in Our Society?” will feature a panel discussion addressing how business can enhance discourse and dialogue among disparate views. The Oct. 1 session will focus on the “freedom to listen” and the Oct. 15 session will center on the qualities of true engagement. Check the series website for more detailed information.

“Civil Discourse” is part of the Notre Dame Alumni Association’s ThinkND program and is sponsored by the Eugene D. Fanning Center for Business Communication at Mendoza College of Business. The series will be offered via Zoom and is free and open to the public. Registration is required.

Amanda G. McKendree, the Arthur F. and Mary J. O’Neil Director of the Fanning Center and associate teaching professor of management, will serve as moderator. The Sept. 17 panel discussion experts include:

Bob Feldman, founder of The Dialogue Project, a global initiative to explore what role business can play to reduce polarization and improve civil discourse in our society. The program, founded by Feldman in 2019, is now housed at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University.

Kristin Hansen, co-founder of the Civic Health Project, an initiative dedicated to reducing toxic partisan polarization and enabling healthier public discourse and decision-making across our citizenry, politics and media. Hansen also lectures at Stanford University.

Stacy Sharpe, senior vice president of corporate relations at Allstate. Sharpe is the leader of Allstate’s involvement with the Aspen Institute on The Better Arguments Project.

ThinkND is designed to help Notre Dame alumni and friends easily access free online learning opportunities from across the University.

The Eugene D. Fanning Center for Business Communication was established at the Mendoza College of Business in 1990 to assist members of the Notre Dame community in achieving their academic, intellectual and professional goals by providing instruction and guidance on writing, speaking and other dimensions of human communication. At the heart of this mission is a concern for the individual, a focus on ethics and integrity in business, and a commitment to advancing the College and the University.