Habits of a Free Mind: The Art of Civil Disagreement


Are we capable of engaging across lines of  difference without feeling traumatized and without dehumanizing? How can we navigate “cancel culture” in which misinterpreted words, heterodox views, and guilt-by-association can result in ostracization on college campuses, mobbing on social media, and retractions and redactions of published works? We will read a variety of excerpts from contemporary and classical texts across a range of disciplines, including philosophy, poetry, social science, and more. Through in-class exercises, written and experiential assignments, and an emphasis on playfulness, you will spend the quarter developing and practicing mental and interpersonal habits designed to increase your tolerance of intellectual and psychological discomfort, expand your capacity for civil dialogue and productive disagreement, and strengthen your ability to make a difference in an area that matters to you. Pamela Paresky, primary researcher and in-house editor of the New York Times bestseller, The Coddling of the American Mind, and Visiting Fellow at the SNF Agora Institute leads this interdisciplinary, experiential, and unconventional shared inquiry.