The (Un)Common Good - 2011

Join The (Un)Common Good online discussion on our Facebook page or on Twitter by following @ILhumanities and/or tweeting with the hashtag #uncommongood.

  • How Free? Freedom vs. Security – Chicago, October 5, 2011 – By invitation only
  • What's Fair? Individual and Community Responsibility – Springfield, July 20, 2011 – Watch the Video
  • Special Café Society Discussion: Hope in America? - Chicago, June 30, 2011
  • What's Possible? Government and the Economy – Skokie, April 27, 2011 – See the Poll Results
  • Who Decides? Democracy and Divide – Chicago, January 27, 2011

    In addition to public programs and on-going discussion groups, visit our online resource page of interesting articles and organizations that examine the current state of public disagreement.

    We'd like to take the "dis" out of disagreement.

    Maybe, like us, you've noticed that the current state of public discourse – from the town hall meetings on health care to shouting matches on television news programs– suggests that we may have forgotten how to exchange differing views without resorting to acrimony and partisan slogans. Some research suggests that Americans are becoming more ideologically segregated - engaging with like-minded people, and rarely connecting to those we disagree with.

    We're presenting The (Un)Common Good series because we believe there is an urgent need to re-imagine new ways to discuss issues across ideologies, to model civil debate and dialogue between people who come down on different sides of an issue, and to share information that strives to be unbiased, fact-based, and even-handed. We think that engagement with the humanities is a vehicle through which we can talk, listen and disagree. The humanities can bring fresh and unique perspectives to the complex and controversial issues. Both ethics and literature, for example, can help us understand why choices about health care reform are so difficult to make. For centuries, philosophers and writers have grappled with ideas about freedom and its limits that can help us understand why we disagree on some civil liberties issues. With their focus on reflection, meaning, and perspective the humanities might help us get to the root of our disagreements.

    With The (Un)Common Good series, we're planning to bring together scholars, artists, writers, journalists and audience members across political perspectives to discuss contemporary issues in ways that are passionate, yet thoughtful and respectful. We'd like to get at what's behind a lot of our disagreements – the big questions we don't often get to talk about. What should be the role of government? Should there be any limits to freedom? What do we owe each other?

    Lead sponsorship for The (Un)Common Good series is provided by The Boeing Company, with additional travel support provided by Southwest Airlines.
    WBEZ Chicago is the media sponsor.


    The (Un)Common Good
    series is part of Practicing Democracy, a national partnership with the Boeing Company, the Maryland Humanities Council and Humanities Washington. Learn more about Maryland's and Washington's projects here:

    This program is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Views and opinions expressed by individual panelists, scholars, and artists in The (Un)Common Good do not necessarily state or reflect those of partner organizations in the series, the Illinois Humanities Council, the National Endowment for the Humanities, or the Illinois General Assembly.