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U of M Humphrey School to host 'Civil Conversations Project' with Public Radio's Krista Tippett

Public discussions at the U to focus on marriage, abortion and Christian voices

September 5, 2012

The Civil Conversations Project (CCP), created by American Public Media’s “On Being” radio program, announced today a series of public discussions that will bring together leaders who represent opposing views on the most contentious issues in American civic discourse, but who have managed to find common ground.

Three of the four discussions will be hosted by the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, including the Sept. 12 kickoff. “On Being” host Krista Tippett will moderate all four discussions: “The Next Christians,” “Pro Life, Pro Choice, Pro Dialogue,” “Political Bridge People” and “The Future of Marriage.”

“Our disagreements are suffocating our potential as a country and state,” said Larry Jacobs, U of M professor and director of the Humphrey School’s Center for the Study of Politics and Governance. “The collaboration with Krista Tippett seeks to honor and learn from bridge builders—the creative and courageous who accept differences and still press on to find common ground.”

The panels will feature participants that CCP has identified as “bridge people”—leaders of various issues who have found ways to transcend the bitter divide that frequently makes productive debate on these topics seem impossible. The discussions are free and open to the public and will later be broadcast in a special series of “On Being” shows.

“Regardless of where we fall on the political spectrum, there is a great longing to have conversations about these topics in a substantive way that is missing in all the partisan bickering,” said Tippett. “Avoiding these subjects doesn’t make them go away, and painting the opposition as too far removed from one’s own position to warrant any thought or consideration doesn’t engender progress.”

The Sept. 12 and 26 and Oct. 10 events will take place on the U of M’s West Bank campus in Cowles Auditorium, located at 301 19th Ave. S., Minneapolis. Parking for a fee may be available at the university’s 19th Avenue and 21st Avenue parking ramps. The Oct. 9 event will be held at The Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

Pre-registration is recommended. To register and obtain free tickets, visit the Civil Conversations Project website,

Event highlights are as follows:

“The Next Christians” – Wednesday, Sept. 12 at 6 p.m. CT, with Gabe Lyons, founder of "Q" and author of “The Next Christians,” and Jim Daly, president, Focus on the Family

“Pro Life, Pro Choice, Pro Dialogue” – Wednesday, Sept. 26 at 3 p.m. CT, with Frances Kissling, activist and former president, Catholics for Choice, and David Gushee, professor of Christian Ethics, Mercer University

“Political Bridge People” – Tuesday, Oct. 9 at 10 a.m. ET, with Alice Rivlin, The Brookings Institution, and Senator Pete Domenici, Bipartisan Policy Center (held at The Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C.)

“The Future of Marriage” – Wednesday, Oct. 10 at noon CT, with Jonathan Rauch, Independent Gay Forum, and David Blankenhorn, Institute for American Values

For more details on the public discussions, visit or Video of the discussions will be streamed live online and made available for later viewing at

The Humphrey School’s Center for the Study of Politics and Governance
The Center for the Study of Politics and Governance (CSPG) at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs develops practical, independent and nonpartisan solutions to pressing political and policy challenges. Founded in 2005, CSPG fosters effective and efficient governance, increases the transparency of government processes and rebuilds the public trust in order to counteract negative influences that threaten our democracy. For more information, visit

The Civil Conversations Project
Launched in January 2011, CCP is a series of live discussions, radio shows and online resources for beginning new conversations in families and communities about pressing issues that are often distorted when they become hot-button issues. At the heart of the project are vital questions about how we communicate in our civic spaces: How do we speak the questions we don't know how to ask each other? Can we find ways to bridge gulfs between us about politics, morality and life itself? Can we do that even while we continue to disagree, passionately? How is technology playing into all this, and how can we shape it?

On Being
Hosted by Krista Tippett, “On Being” is a weekly radio program about the big questions at the center of human life, from the boldest new science of the human brain to the most ancient traditions of the human spirit. It is heard on 250 public radio stations across the United States and globally via Internet and podcast. The program has won the highest honors in both broadcasting and electronic media - a Peabody and two Webby awards. On Being is the only public radio program in the United States to achieve this distinction.


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