California Council for the Humanities to Present Forum on Democracy and the Culture of Civic Conversation

Mar 01, 2011, 21:31 ET from California Council for the Humanities

LOS ANGELES, March 1, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- This Friday, March 4, 2011, California Council for the Humanities (CCH) presents a forum on "Democracy and the Culture of Civic Conversation" at the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy in downtown Los Angeles. The forum will be streamed via live webcast at and viewers can participate online in the conversations by posting questions and comments.

The forum will bring together an array of humanities scholars, public intellectuals, educators, and members of the public to discuss the relationship between the culture of civic conversation and democracy in America. Forum participants will gather to explore what it means to be part of an informed, engaged, and pluralistic society.

"The humanities, historical knowledge, critical thinking, and imagination are fundamental to the livelihood of our democracy," said Ralph Lewin, President and CEO of CCH. "At a time when cutbacks at schools, universities, and libraries are threatening civil discourse, when public conversations become more strident, this program offers a much-needed boost to our efforts to improve intellectual and civic life and the life of our democratic ideals."

The forum is designed to foster rigorous and thought-provoking dialogue. Featured forum panelists—including author Chris Abani, scholar/author Kathleen Hall Jamieson, author and journalist Gregory Rodriguez, and Bill Whitaker of CBS Evening News, among others—will lead discussions on topics such as the history of U.S. political discourse, how social structures have shaped engagement in the public realm, and the future of civic discourse in a diverse and digitized world.

The forum launches a two-year thematic program initiative by CCH called Searching for Democracy.  The initiative is designed to animate a public conversation on the nature of democracy in today's society and enhance a greater public understanding of the civic realm to improve our collective exercise of the powers of self-government. Other planned activities include a statewide read with California libraries, a travelling exhibition, media-based programming, a series of public dialogues, and in-school and youth-focused programs.

The National Endowment for the Humanities awarded a grant to CCH to support the forum, as part of the NEH's Bridging Cultures program designed to initiate humanities-based public discussions around two separate key issue areas: the role of civility in democracy and understanding Islamic influences in world cultures and the humanities. CCH, one of just eight selected from among 92 applicants nationwide.  This forum is one of four taking place across the nation in the month of March that will explore democracy and civility.

CCH is honored to be partnering with a wide array of institutions and organizations to develop and implement Searching for Democracy, including California Center for the Book, California Community Colleges, California Exhibition Resources Alliance, California History-Social Science Project, California State Library, California State University, Facing History and Ourselves, Japanese American National Museum, KQED, National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation, New America Foundation, TOWN HALL Los Angeles, the University of California Humanities Research Institute and UC Davis Humanities Institute, the University of Southern California Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership & Policy and Center for Diversity and Democracy, and Zocalo Public Square.

The California Council for the Humanities connects Californians to ideas and one another in order to understand our shared heritage and diverse cultures, inspire civic participation, and shape our future.

The Council is an independent nonprofit organization and state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Originally founded in 1975, the Council is a leader in statewide humanities programming and grant funding. For more information, visit or

SOURCE California Council for the Humanities