Civil Discourse

Dear Tulane Community:
“The mark of an educated mind,” according to Aristotle, is the ability to “entertain a thought without accepting it.” To that end, as this difficult and tumultuous political season enters its final few weeks, I believe it is imperative that we focus on our mission as an educational institution to develop our students into critical and compassionate thinkers. To achieve this, we should strive to be a model of civil discourse, engaging with those whose views and opinions may be different from ours.
For many in our community – and in our nation – the upcoming election is prompting deep introspection and public discussion on many significant and fundamental questions. At the same time, we are facing an unprecedented confluence of complex challenges brought on by a serious public health crisis. It is my sincerest hope that we emerge stronger from this difficult time, working together for a positive future, as we have always done in the past.
As we discuss and debate, we must continue to live our core values – to listen and learn; to engage one another with dignity and respect; and to recognize and value the diversity in thought, perspective and experience we each bring to the conversation. There will be times when we may profoundly disagree. But even when we disagree, we must do so in a way that upholds the value of free speech, while standing united against hate speech or racist language of any kind. And we must do so in a way that leaves us a shared path forward.
I encourage you to explore below the ways in which Tulane is promoting civil discourse and inquiry as we approach a pivotal moment in our nation’s history. As I’ve said before, we are in a unique place and at a unique moment in time. And I believe that the Tulane community, when it stands together, is stronger and better than anything that may divide us.
In order to promote civil discussion and increase our knowledge of the upcoming election, we are hosting Election 2020: Tulane Experts Bring Context to a Historic Election at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 29. This virtual panel discussion will be moderated by Brian Edwards, professor and dean of the School of Liberal Arts. Panelists will include Karissa Haugeberg, associate professor of history; Jana Lipman, associate professor of history; Scott Nolan, professor of practice in the Political Science Department; and Robert St. Martin Westley, LOCHEF Professor of Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility in the School of Law. Click here to attend this event. Co-sponsors include College Democrats and College Republicans, Division of Student Affairs and the School of Liberal Arts.
The School of Professional Advancement (SoPA) will host a virtual watch party with commentary and analysis from policymakers, business leaders, professors and others. SoPA Dean Suri Duitch and Halima Leak-Francis, SoPA professor of practice and director of the Public Administration Program, will moderate. Click here to view the impressive lineup of commentators for this event and to register.
We are also running free daily shuttles for Tulane voters from campus to City Hall for early voting. To view the shuttle schedule, visit the New Student & Leadership Programs Student Government page.
Finally, always remember your voice counts not just here on campus but at the ballot box. Please use that voice often – and only for civil discourse.