Stockton Partnership Plans To Bring Civility Back To Political Conversations

Photo credit: Stockton University

GALLOWAY. N.J. — In the wake of a relatively mild political season and as a certainly more cantankerous one lies just beyond the horizon, many see the need for civility in political discourse. 

Enter the Initiative to Revive Civility, a partnership between the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University and the National Institute for Civil Discourse (NICD).

The Hughes Center will hold small-group and community discussions about civility in our political conversations during the 2020 election year.  Members of the public will be invited to participate in dialogue about how to reduce the hostility and polarization found in political talk today. Sessions will also be offered to Stockton University students, according to John Froonjian, interim executive director of the Hughes Center.

“It’s important for students to know there was a time when people could disagree over politics and not call each other names,” Froonjian said in a press release. “We welcome their ideas on how we can return to more civil conversation.”

Froonjian said involvement in the program is an appropriate way to practice the civil civic engagement exemplified by the late Ambassador William J. Hughes, who passed away on Oct. 30.

Former New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman is an honorary national co-chair of the NICD, whose advisory board is chaired by former President Bill Clinton and includes former U.S. Secretaries of State Madeline Albright and Colin Powell, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, and other bipartisan political leaders.

The nonpartisan National Institute for Civil Discourse was established in 2011 after the tragic shooting in Tucson that killed six people and wounded 13 others, including former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

NICD created the Initiative to Revive Civility in 2017 as a national effort to change the tone of modern politics by proposing strategies and programs to elevate political speech and partners with organizations that pledge to promote civility, hold community conversations, and work with government and news media to spread the word. 

Froonjian said the Hughes Center will begin promoting public dialogue sessions by January. He also said the center may also participate and involve the public and students in other civility programs sponsored by the NICD.