We strive to support a culture of robust public argument through curricular and extra-curricular engagement, equipping students with the rhetorical and deliberative capacities to serve Carolina and beyond as citizens, leaders, and stewards of democracy.
The integrity of public deliberation is predicated upon mutual respect for the truth, competing perspectives, the deliberative process, and one another, i.e., civility. We define civility as an active commitment to recognizing the humanity and legitimacy of one’s interlocuters, and we recognize civility as a precept to the free and open exchange of ideas.
Ideas matter because they have consequences. To produce better ideas, we must learn how to think critically. Critical thinking is a social and communicative activity that requires an appetite for difficult dialogue and even agonistic debate. Thus, to serve the public good, citizens must learn how to argue effectively.
Democracy requires its participants to make and evaluate claims about the world. To make a claim persuasive, one must support it with compelling reasons, undergirded by public knowledge and adapted to its audience and situation. Conversely, the capacity to evaluate an argument effectively requires sound reasoning and an optimal balance of curious and critical listening.
Our commitment to cultivating rhetorical acumen is wide-ranging. We mentor students through extracurricular programming. We assist faculty in incorporating deliberative practices into the classroom. We host public events featuring speakers who demonstrate the transformative potential of agonistic dialogue, i.e., collaborative disagreement.
Above all, we strive to cultivate an ethos of engaged citizenship by facilitating proto-public spaces for students to practice public discourse while heightening their democratic sensibilities.