Mission: To establish a culture which welcomes, encourages and nurtures deep civic relationships between diverse people with diverse points of view through respectful, and, ultimately friendly, dialogue and conversation.
Strategic Plan: Create a Center which will reach out to local Detroit area universities to marshal the energy, creativity and wisdom of both the students and the faculty to: 1) train fellowships of college students in the methodology and purpose of civil discourse, and create a close relationship among this fellowship; 2) support the fellows as they learn about, practice and integrate civil discourse into their college experience; 3) empower these fellows after graduation to turn their civil discourse work into coalitions working on civic projects; 4) partner with others in the American civil discourse world to establish a national network for a community of respectful debate
Location: Metro Detroit is an ideal location for a national center for Civil Discourse because of the diverse communities that are playing important roles in the renaissance of Detroit but need to work together to re-build the wider metropolitan area.
Proposed director: Rabbi Asher Lopatin, has studied Islam (M.Phil, Oxon) and Judaism, and has focused his professional career on building bridges and dialogue, both within the Jewish community, but, notably, between the Jewish and Muslim communities.
Three Year Plan:
Year One: Hire staff , Director and Assistant Director, develop lay board, find the first host university to host the first cohort of Fellows of the Center and work with that university’s faculty and academic centers to develop a curriculum and faculty for the fellowship, recruit students for the three year fellowship, and connect with civil discourse centers projects throughout the country and establish best practices
Year Two: Focus on training student fellows, pilot curriculum, conduct internal civil discourse conversations among the student-fellows, host university-wide gatherings to publicize the work of the fellowships and recruit the next cohort.
Year Three: While a new cohort starts its year of training, the first cohort will begin to convene their own conversations campus-wide; the Center will also showcase the student fellows and the participating universities and faculties on a community wide basis so that all participants can gain recognition for their efforts modeling and advocating for civil discourse.