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The Daily Wildcat

 

UA unveils National Institute for Civil Discourse

Ginny Polin/ Arizona Daily Wildcat

Fred DuVal, vice chair of the Arizona Board of Regents, holds a press conference Monday at Rogers College of Law, to announce the new National Institute for Civil Discourse. The center will be chaired by former presidents Clinton and Bush.
Ginny Polin
Ginny Polin/ Arizona Daily Wildcat Fred DuVal, vice chair of the Arizona Board of Regents, holds a press conference Monday at Rogers College of Law, to announce the new National Institute for Civil Discourse. The center will be chaired by former presidents Clinton and Bush.

Put together in a matter of weeks in response to the president’s call for civility, the National Institute for Civil Discourse, headquartered at the UA, debuted on Monday.

The National Institute for Civil Discourse is a non-partisan center designed to advance civility in political discourse. The institute will support debate, research, education and policy. The National Institute for Civil Discourse is slated to be housed in the UA’s School of Government and Public Policy, but will also affiliate with the Rehnquist Center on the Constitutional Structures of Government in the James E. Rogers College of Law and other departments from all over the University.

“”Just five weeks ago and just five blocks away, our 44th president called upon us to craft a country in a democracy worthy in the hopes of Christina Taylor Green,”” said Fred DuVal, vice chair of the Arizona Board of Regents and the man who came up with the idea for the institute. “”We here uniquely know what you meant and we here begin that work.””

“”It’s ironic it’s President’s Day,”” DuVal said. Former U.S. Presidents Bill Clinton and George H. W. Bush will serve as honorary chairs. Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle will serve as honorary co-chairs.

“”Our country needs a setting for political debate that is both frank and civil, and the National Institute for Civil Discourse can make a significant contribution toward reaching this goal,”” Bush said in a press release.

More than 50 UA faculty members who do research, community service and teaching related to civil discourse have already been indentified throughout the university, said Brint Milward, the director and providence service corporation chair. One of the institute’s first tasks is to bring these people together around the effort.

The institute will draw on faculty and expertise from the College of Education, psychology department, School of Journalism, history department and many other disciplines, according to Provost Meredith Hay.

Milward and professor Sally Rider from the Rehnquist Center on the Constitutional Structures of Government at the James E. Rogers College of Law will co-lead the institute.

The institute will run on private funding. Though, Milward added they would not turn down government funding if it were offered.

“”More private funding will be needed for the institute,”” he said. “”We will immediately engage funders locally and nationally to invest in our institute.””

The institute will name more board members during the next few weeks to bring “”talent and diverse perspectives”” to the board, according to Milward.

“”We will soon be organizing to bring together a very diverse group of individuals,”” Milward said.

Milward put off answering the question of how much money will be needed for the institute. He explained that they need a core staff, and are already “”very lucky to have marvelous office space”” for the institute.

“”One of the things we want to do is to collaborate with groups like this all over the country,”” Milward said. “”This is one institute. Tucson is one place. Arizona is one state. We need to collaborate with groups all across the country.””

He added that they have considered the Institute of Politics at Harvard University, but that there are many schools and groups across the nation and within Arizona to which they would like to reach out.

“”I think we need to be realistic about what can be accomplished,”” DuVal said. “”I don’t think that the success of this institute can be measured by whether or not we dramatically change every piece of political debate that takes place in the country.

“”What is realistic is to create enough conversation among more thoughtful and respectful people in as many places in the country as possible. That those people who do politics will see political reward in changing their behavior.””

 

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