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WAMC will broadcast a special radio series that will take an in-depth look at civility in public discourse over three consecutive days, June 16th, 17th and 18th, between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. on WAMC’s morning radio program, The Roundtable. This series will ask the questions: What is happening with civil discourse in America? Is incivility in government and in the public square becoming the new norm? Is a breakdown in communication threatening democracy? Are stalemates and political posturing standing in the way of achieving resolutions, problem solving, and finding common ground? Does civility matter? Are name calling and incivility just “sticks and stones” that are part of the process or does the process get hurt by them? Across the U.S., these questions are at the heart of the discussion about the current state of incivility in America, which has risen to crisis level.

Agreeing to Disagree - Steven Pinker

  In media, political circles, and even the neighborhood shopping center or soccer field, we often here combatant voices piercing one another's views - and our eardrums in the process. In this din of discourse comes the question of civility. With all of the talk - and screaming - can there also be listening and perhaps an understanding of the shawl of ideas and concerns they wish to share and embrace us with?

In partnership with MASS Humanities we present a three part series entitled Agreeing to Disagree: Civility in Public Discourse. Over the next three days we will explore the issues, concepts, and themes of civility and incivility. Today and tomorrow we will feature six leading scholars on the issue. On Wednesday, June 18, we will open up our phone lines from 9am-10am ET and invite you to join what we hope is an in-depth, comprehensive, and civil discussion.

  In tackling this project, we quickly learned what a complex topic it is. With morals, manners, religion, political thought and philosophy all ingredients in the great burbling stew of civility, in manages to become a delicate process of contextualizing the individual topics while not forgetting the others breathing down your neck. That is why, this morning, we will speak with a Professor of English, a professor of Political Science, and a Psychologist.

For day one of the series we look at Civility: The American Journey.

We begin on a positive note - not a bad place to start for a project on civility.

Steven Pinker is The Harvard College Professor of Psychology at Harvard University. A two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist and the winner of many awards for his research, teaching, and books, he has been named one of Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World Today and Foreign Policy's 100 Global Thinkers. His latest book deals with the subject of civility and is entitled The Better Angels of our Nature: Why Violence has Declined.

Agreeing to Disagree: Civility in Public Discourse is funded in part by MASS Humanities.

Joe talks to people on the radio for a living. In addition to countless impressive human "gets" - he has talked to a lot of Muppets. Joe grew up in Philadelphia, has been on the area airwaves for more than 25 years and currently lives in Washington County, NY with his wife, Kelly, and their dog, Brady. And yes, he reads every single book.
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