The Civil Conversations Project" is an ongoing series of radio shows and an online destination that mines fresh vocabulary, lived virtues and practices, and lessons learned where ideals meet hard reality. And, we want you to be part of this diverse, ongoing public conversation.

We're hungry for fresh ways to tell hard truths and redemptive stories, to sit with questions. We learn to speak in new ways in order to live in new ways.

But how do we find new ways to speak and listen to each other, to live forward together, even while holding passionate disagreements? Is "tolerance" a big enough civic ethic for the scope of diversity and the magnitude of our common challenges in the 21st century? Where does leadership lie?

July 28, 2011

Words That Shimmer

with Elizabeth Alexander

Poetry is something many of us seem to be hungry for these days. We're hungry for fresh ways to tell hard truths and redemptive stories, for language that would elevate and embolden rather than demean and alienate. Elizabeth Alexander shares her sense of what poetry works in us — and in our children — and why it may become more relevant, not less so, in hard and complicated times. Learn More at

Elizabeth Alexander is a poet and professor of African American Studies at Yale University. She wrote and delivered "Praise Song for the Day" at Barack Obama's presidential inauguration. Her most recent book of poems is Crave Radiance: New and Selected Poems, 1990-2010.
August 4, 2011

Sidling up to Difference

with Kwame Anthony Appiah

Our Civil Conversations Project continues with the Ghanaian-British-American philosopher Kwame Anthony Appiah. His parents' marriage helped inspire the movie Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. He's studied ethics in a world of strangers and how unimaginable social change happens. We explore his erudite yet down-to-earth take on disarming moral hostilities in America now. Learn More at

Kwame Anthony Appiah is Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy at the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. His books include Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers and The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen.
August 11, 2011

Listening Beyond Life and Choice

with Frances Kissling

Frances Kissling is known for her longtime activism on the abortion issue but has devoted her energy more in recent years to real relationship and new conversations across that bitter divide. She's learned, she's written, about the courage to be vulnerable in front of those with whom we passionately disagree. Learn More at

Frances Kissling is a visiting scholar at the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania and served as the president of Catholics for Choice until her retirement in 2007.
August 18, 2011

Restoring Political Civility

with Richard Mouw

Richard Mouw challenges his fellow conservative Christians to civility in public discourse. He offers historical as well as spiritual perspective on American Evangelicals' navigation of disagreement, fear, and truth. Learn More at

Richard Mouw is president of Fuller Theological Seminary and a professor of Christian Philosophy and Ethics. He is the author of Uncommon Decency.
August 25, 2011

Civility, History, and Hope

with Vincent Harding

As part of our Civil Conversations Project, we experience the civil rights veteran Vincent Harding. He has a long lens of wisdom on contemporary divisions and confusions. He says America is still a developing nation when it comes to democratic encounter across real difference. But he finds hope in the young people he's been bringing into creative contact with civil rights elders for decades. They are his answer to the question that drives him: "Is America possible?" Learn More at

Vincent Harding is chairperson of the Veterans of Hope Project at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado, where he's also Professor Emeritus of Religion and Social Transformation. He's also the author of Hope and History: Why We Must Share the Story of the Movement.
September 1, 2011

Alive Enough?

with Sherry Turkle

Sherry Turkle directs the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. Her book, Alone Together, created a catchword for anxiety about the alienating potential of technology. But that's not really her message. We explore the real challenge she poses — that we can and must lead examined lives with our digital objects — actively shaping technology to human purposes. Learn More at

Sherry Turkle is Abby Rockefeller Mauzé Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT. She's the founder and director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. Her books include Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other.

Creating Civility: A Public Conversation with Krista Tippett

January 19, 2011 ~ Minnesota Public Radio, UBS Forum

Words that Shimmer Sidling up to Difference Listening Beyond Life and Choice Restoring Political Civility Civility, History, and Hope Alive Enough?