Brookdale recently held its first ever Civility Week from Oct. 4 to Oct. 8. The event, which concluded Friday after a week of discussion, centered around community building, healing and awareness.
Monday’s events included a keynote opening ceremony, in which several of our faculty previewed their events before award-winning journalist and author, Steven Petrow, and moderator/director of diversity and inclusion/CCOG, Angela Kariotis, took the stage to begin the evening’s conversation, “Closer Than We Might Appear: A Conversation on Connection, Communication and Civil Discourse with Steven Petrow.”
Dr. David Bassano, who would be hosting Thursday’s presentation, “A History of Civility” set the tone for the week, sharing an anecdote of watching an example of civility in a Paris cafe and reminding everyone that though it may seem that civility is lost, the world is demonstrably more civil today than it was in the past.
“It may come as a surprise if I say that human societies are more civil than it once was. A quick glimpse that your internet news feed might seem to indicate that incivility and selfishness is the order of the day, but one look at the historical record makes it clear that the world is far less brutish than it once was,” Bassano said.
Once the keynote commenced, the audience, both virtual and in-person, were treated to a range of topics including: the need to familiarize the use of pronouns, the politicization of civility, social media and cancel culture.
The audience frequently requested Petrow’s insight into how civility plays a role in today’s society and how individuals can have difficult conversations with family and community members who may not practice civility themselves.
“I hear your frustration. I have lived your frustration that is part of today, and I think the answer is, you don’t stop, you keep going,” Petrow said. “It is a marathon not a sprint, and so the more you can build trust, the more you can open doors, the more you can become vulnerable. You will build on something and that will continue and do know sometimes you’ll need to take a timeout.”
On Tuesday, several events were held throughout the afternoon, including one on the philosophical perspective of Confucius and Aristotle on civility, and another on how civility plays a role in encounters with the police. “Self-Care Leads to Greater Civility,” a presentation hosted by Tricia D’Aloia Gandolfo, director of nursing, shared some tips on relaxation techniques, healthy habits, and how to be mindful of your stress levels so that the practice of civility comes easier.
In addition to various discussions on the role civility plays in asking difficult questions and in non-violent communication on Wednesday, a film screening and Q&A with director of “The Long Shadow,” Frances Causey, closed out the day.
The film, an award-winning documentary about white privilege and white supremacy in relation to the history of the United States, evoked an interactive and engaging discussion about the need to have a national discussion on pushback about the advancement of Black Americans.
Causey answered questions in relation to her journey into making the film, how history plays a role in how people treat each other today and how to break through those roadblocks. One of the highlights noted about the film is the fact that it features the voices of former slaves, creating an opportunity for Causey to step back and let the history speak for itself, rather than impose her perceived perspective.
“When I was with my team and we were starting on the film, I thought, how can I, as a white person, tell so much of the Black experience in our country?” Causey shared. “I was very sensitive to the appropriation. That I’ve somehow appropriated the story for profit. What I really tried hard to do was to make sure that I had as many Black scholars talking about this history. I hope that comes across.”
A host of events throughout Thursday and Friday covered topics such as social awareness, empathy and community building. “To Be Civil Is To Be Stigma-Free” centered around Brookdale’s new stigma-free designation and presented a discussion on what stigma-free means, as well as ways to foster that type of environment on campus and the real implications of stigmatizing mental health.
Many events are still accessible for viewing. For more links to virtual content, and last week’s Civility Week events, visit: https://www.brookdalecc.edu/civility-week/