OLLI, Civic Nebraska begin civil discourse class Jan. 29

How do you talk productively with someone with whose politics you do not agree? Or make your opinions known to your representatives without alienating them? Or create community change through civil discourse? This month, Civic Nebraska will explore civil discourse in ways that help answer these questions.

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Anyone paying attention to the news these days is more than aware of the often-bitter political divisions that characterize our nation today.

Discussions about how to form our more perfect union are not supposed to be easy. Today’s debates about immigration, impeachment, military matters, international diplomacy, and lots of other issues are as difficult as any in our history. When these topics come up in the company of others, though, it’s increasingly a modern reflex to retreat to already-hardened positions – damaging relationships, silencing others’ perspectives, and ensuring that only the loudest voices in the room are heard. As a result our democracy suffers.

Amanda Barker

So how do you talk productively with someone with whose politics you do not agree – perhaps vehemently? How do you make your opinions known to your representatives without alienating them? How can we encourage media literacy and promote balanced journalism? How can you create community change through civil discourse? Later this month, working with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, Civic Nebraska will explore civil discourse in ways that help answer those questions.

Participants will come away with a more thorough understanding of what civil discourse truly means, and why it’s necessary for a robust democracy. Though it often feels better to shut down opposing ideas and generally make those with different viewpoints feel bad about themselves, this course makes the case for having an authentic American conversation.

Join Amanda Barker, Civic Nebraska’s deputy executive director and director of our Civic Health Programs, and Charlyne Berens, professor emerita of journalism at the University of Nebraska, for this six-week examination of civil discourse. The course, which begins Jan. 29 and meets Wednesdays through March 4, is more than two-thirds full as of Jan. 16. It’s open to anyone, but you must become an OLLI member to take the course. Seats are filling quickly, so if you’re interested, don’t delay. See you soon!

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