Can Playing at Civility Make Us More Civil?

Hi Joel,

Given your recent reading in civility, I wanted to share a project happening at Gonzaga University that seeks to promote respectful dialogue across lines of political difference.

Gonzaga is the host of the Institute for Hate Studies, an interdisciplinary endeavor that I’ve been associated with for a few years. This October, the Institute sponsored an international studies on hate scholarship. (Trust me: it’s more fun than it sounds!) As part of that, GU students in media organized a kind of game show focusing on civility.

For the game, individuals were partnered with someone who was very different from them, politically. They had to go through 4 rounds of working together on different tasks, starting with simply finding areas on which they agree. The final challenge required to craft a vision for America’s future of things that they agreed on. The media students then edited the teams’ presentation of their vision into a video that was presented a live audience, which voted to award teams points based on how well they did the task.

Above, Gonzaga students work to promote civility using a gameshow format. 

I don’t want to overstate the case: I don’t think that we owe conversation to people who are hostile to us, deny our humanity, or want us to suffer. I don’t think we need to read primers on how to get along at the holidays with family members who think that treating us poorly is okay.

But there is something noble and worthwhile in practicing the discipline of speaking with those who hold dramatically different opinions.

You can watch the whole episode of Common Ground here.


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