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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Humanities Institute hosts Civility Project on campus

The UC Davis Humanities Institute is hoping to create student awareness to the idea of civility with the opening debut of “The Civility Project” on Oct. 27, which includes a website, art exhibition and a two night performance piece.

The project comes in response to acts of incivility that have happened in recent years at UC Davis and various other UC campuses. Incidents reported on Davis’ campus include the defacement of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Center (LBGTRC) and the tagging of swastikas around various parts of campus.

After Jim Leach, chair of the National Endowment for Humanities (NEH), gave a civility-related talk on campus last year, the UC Davis Humanities Institute decided to begin the project.

“People don’t necessarily agree on what they think civility is or what conditions are necessary to foster civility,” said co-project director Jessica Loudermilk. “Civility is a conversation we need to have as a community to decide what it means for us.”

Funding for the website was given by the NEH and both graduate and undergraduate students worked on the website’s creation. A key function of the website is not only to bring awareness of incivility to students, but also to have a component for community input.

Soon after funds were given for the website, the chancellor allocated resources to the UC Davis Humanities Institute for the creation of the art exhibition and the performance piece.

The art exhibition, held at the Buehler Alumni Center, includes pamphlets from Shields Library’s Walter Goldwater Radical Pamphlets Collection.

“Even if students don’t hear about it, these events are still happening,” said UC Davis Exhibition Design graduate Elizabeth August. “If you look at these pamphlets, some are very shocking on what they have to say.”

The exhibit will be open through the entire month of November.

The performance piece was created by a team of undergraduate students directed by Chris McCoy, a doctoral student of performance studies. For six months the team interviewed numerous UC Davis students all over campus and compiled those interviews into a performance piece. Every single word that is said in the performance is verbatim from the interviews conducted.

“One thing I would like to press is that this performance isn’t some ethical lecture on how we should act toward other people,” said junior neurobiology, physiology and behavior major Mironda Burch, “It’s about sharing our different opinions and experiences with this word civility.”

The performance will run Oct. 27 and the 28.

“This is an opportunity to pause and reflect about what we mean about civility,” said Loudermilk, referring to the ultimate goal behind the project.

More information is available regarding all aspects of the project on the Davis Humanities Institute website, dhi.ucdavis.edu.

MAX RUSSER can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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