Student-led project aims to increase civil discourse on campus

· 3 min read

Student-led project aims to increase civil discourse on campus

Husker Dialogues
Students talk during the Husker Dialogues at the start of the fall semester. A new student-led project starting Nov. 10 aims to increase civil discourse on campus.

In an era where extreme viewpoints hinder national debate and social interactions, a student-led project is encouraging civil discourse at University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

Centered on nine core values, the Peace and Civility project will promote civil interactions through organized training sessions; group discussions; a video featuring Richard Moberly, interim executive vice chancellor and dean of the College of Law; and a panel featuring five state senators. Events are offered Nov. 10-19.

“With 30,000 students, faculty and staff on campus, it’s inevitable that we won’t all agree,” said Richard Moberly, interim executive vice chancellor. “What matters is how we disagree with each other. If we can approach those with whom we disagree with a sense of humility, and if we can disagree respectfully, we may learn something ourselves.”

Video: Peace and Civility project

The Peace and Civility project was adapted from a program developed by Minnesota’s Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation. It features the set of core values, based on content from P. M. Forni’s book “Choosing Civility,” that are being used to develop curriculum and conversation.

The core values are listen, pay attention, show respect, apologize, don’t gossip, be constructive, be inclusive, be open, and take responsibility.

The project was developed by the Office of Student Affairs with assistance from nearly 60 students.

Materials from the Duluth civil discourse initiative were adapted into 32 distinct projects by students in two fall 2018 graphic design courses led by Stacy Asher, associate professor of art.

The designs were refined by two student-led teams in an honors seminar on ethical persuasion in advertising and marketing. The students, under the guidance of Nancy Mitchell, professor of journalism and mass communication, adapted the materials into marketing and public relations campaigns to be implemented across campus.


All posters and promotional materials in the Peace and Prosperity Project are based on an initial design by Jose Arellano, a senior graphic design major. The final designs were created by Student Affairs interns Yracema Rivas, a senior graphic design major, and Thao Huynh, a senior double major in advertising/public relations and graphic design.

“Students have been key in moving this project forward, from their initial design work to conceptualizing the project across campus,” said Laurie Bellows, interim vice chancellor for Student Affairs. “Their passion for the topic and desire to make this a campus priority shows in the quality of the promotion and programming for this project.”

Additional details about the project, including a complete schedule of events, are available online. Key programs offered through the Peace and Civility Project — some of which require registration — are listed below.

Peace and Civility Project | Nov. 10-19

Nov. 10 — Inclusive Leadership Retreat, 1 p.m., Willa S. Cather Dining Complex

Nov. 12 — Dish it Up: Peace and Civility, noon, Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center

Nov. 13 — Brown bag luncheon: Social Justice and Civic Engagement Through Art, noon, Nebraska Union

Nov. 13 — Peace and Civility Workshop and Roundtable for Professional Staff, 2 p.m., Cather Dining Complex

Nov. 13 — Peace and Civility Workshop and Roundtable for Student Leaders, 4 p.m., Cather Dining Complex

Nov. 19 — Breaking Through Politics: Meeting in the Middle (panel discussion featuring state senators), 4 p.m., Nebraska Union