WHAT DOES CIVILITY MEAN TO YOU?

    Civility can mean a lot of things to different people in different contexts. However, if you have to sum up in (up to) three words, what does CIVILITY mean to you?



    Submit your answer and see what others have said on the word cloud below.

    Long-and-short, civility can mean different things, although many of us do land on certain ideas. On that note, before we dig deeper into exploring the meaning of civility, let's define some key terms. 

    What do various experts say about the concept of civility?

    In a recent NPR article, Keith Bybee explains, Civility is the baseline of respect that we owe one another in public life," Bybee, the author of How Civility Works, continues, "And when people talk about a crisis in civility, they usually are reporting their sense that there is not a shared understanding of what that baseline of respect ought to be."

    Bybee provides a simple yet comprehensive overview of civility here. Do you resonate with his interpretation? What changes would you make to his definition? Let’s shift to another example definition, which offers a different, more inherently skeptical perspective. Which quote aligns more closely with your experience?

    "Civility has been about making sure that the status quo, the hierarchy of the status quo at the moment, which means racial inequality, gender inequality, class inequality, stays permanent. It's a fraught term. It carries the echoes of that historical and bigoted definition of the civilized versus the savage. Maybe this moment feels like a crisis, but when people call for a restoration of civility, who gets to define it? Who gets to rewrite the social contract?"
    Lynn Itagaki
    University of Missouri

    Let’s take a moment to reflect on the above quote. Dr. Itagaki acknowledges some of the complexities related to civility, specifically within the context of polarization and our current political climate. At what point do the principles of civility no longer apply? What perceptions of civility do you hold?

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