Kenan team receives funding to research civility in public discourse

how-to-ask-revA team of researchers from the Kenan Institute for Ethics was recently awarded funding as part of a project called “Towards a Culture of Questioning,” an effort to consider how asking the right kind of questions can make political discussion more productive.

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, the Chauncey Stillman Professor in Practical Ethics in the Department of Philosophy and the Kenan Institute for Ethics, and director of Kenan’s Moral Attitudes and Decision-Making Program, is acting as principal investigator for a team that includes:

  • Adjunct Assistant Professor Jesse Summers (co-principle investigator)
  • Postdoctoral researcher Jordan Carpenter
  • Aaron Ancell, a Ph.D. candidate in Philosophy and a former Kenan Graduate Fellow

Grant funding comes from the University of Connecticut’s Humanities Institute, funded by the John Templeton Foundation. “A Healthier Q&A” is one of 10 projects receiving funding to explore the landscape of American discourse and create strategies to spur and sustain open-minded, reasonable and well-informed debate and dialogue.

Duke’s team will work to determine which questions, and which contexts, produce humility and civility in public discourse, and which produce polarization and inflexibility. The goal is to find ways to promote a culture of democratically engaged inquiry. Ultimately, the research team hopes to train others to ask questions that lead to mutual appreciation and productive dialogue.

The project is also one of the 2017-2018 Bass Connections teams and will include undergraduate and graduate Duke students.