Funding will support students in civil discourse and thoughtful debate with political differences

California State University, Bakersfield

Arts and Humanities

The Kegley Institute of Ethics at California State University, Bakersfield, has received a $25,000 grant to support students engaged in a timely project intended to promote civil discourse and thoughtful debate across political differences for the benefit of our democracy.

The Laura and Gary Lauder Family Venture Philanthropy Fund commended the objectives of the Intercollegiate Civil Disagreement Partnership, an initiative that brings together five universities (California State University, Bakersfield (Kegley Institute of Ethics), Harvard University (Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics), Stanford University (McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society), Santa Fe College, and St. Philip’s College) for the purpose of helping students develop skills to engage and facilitate constructive dialogue across differences at and beyond their respective colleges and universities.

“This $25,000 award from the Laura and Gary Lauder Family Venture Philanthropy Fund is an important recognition of the work that the Kegley Institute of Ethics and our institutional partners are doing to support undergraduate students in their development as ethical and engaged democratic citizens,” said Dr. Michael D. Burroughs, director of the Kegley Institute of Ethics.

The Lauder family meets annually over Thanksgiving to award grants to a select number of organizations through the Lauder Family Giving Circle. The family engages in meaningful, intergenerational, informed and directed philanthropy. The Lauder family reviewed grant requests from several organizations and after a thoughtful board meeting, they awarded grants to several worthy organizations through a highly competitive process.

“The Kegley Institute relies primarily on private donations and grants to support our many initiatives and approximately 30 thought-provoking events for our campus and greater community each year,” Dr. Burroughs said. “This $25,000 award from the Lauder Family Foundation is a significant support in this regard and will help us to continue to develop the Intercollegiate Civil Disagreement Program on our campus.”

Eight CSUB students have been selected as inaugural fellows by the Intercollegiate Civil Disagreement Partnership. The students were drawn from a wide range of backgrounds and all expressed a willingness to engage in dialogue with others across a diversity of opinions and experiences.

The students are receiving training in discussion facilitation, engaging in deliberative conversations within the fellows group, and also have opportunities to interact with prominent speakers from across the U.S. over the course of the academic year. The eight CSUB fellows are Jacob Richardson, Leah Truitt, Gabrielle Gonzalez, Aubrey Alvarado, Jessica Monroy, Angel Morris, Luis Ochoa and Andrew Velasco.

The project is entirely virtual, as is all currently scheduled KIE programming. The pivot to virtual events, lectures and more reflects CSUB’s priority to keep our Roadrunner family and the broader community safe during the pandemic.

“The Kegley Institute of Ethics has fully embraced the turn to virtual programming,” Dr. Burroughs said. “KIE hosted 15 virtual events, lectures, panels and community conversations via Zoom webinar during the fall 2020 semester with robust attendance and participation from CSUB students, faculty, and staff, and greater Kern County community members. We have also continued to facilitate many online workshops and student-centered programs, including the Intercollegiate Civil Disagreement Program.”

As the fall semester winds to a close, the Kegley Institute has a full slate of thoughtful, compelling programming planned for the spring, including a lineup of major speakers.

“Event topics will include collective memory and current debates about historical monument removal, anti-racism, democratic disagreement, incarceration and police reform, diversity in health care in Kern County, and much more,” Dr. Burroughs said. “The KIE Podcast – The Ethicist’s Corner – will also continue with its third season starting in Spring 2021. Current episodes are available on Spotify, Apple, and Soundcloud.”