Author, professor P.M. Forni visits MU to discuss civility

Wednesday, August 22, 2012 | 11:10 p.m. CDT
Pier M. Forni speaks about civility in the technological age of Google on Wednesday in Jesse Wrench Auditorium. Forni, co-founder of the Johns Hopkins Civility Project, talked about the importance of civility, manners and being polite in successful life relationships.

COLUMBIA — On Wednesday night, author and Johns Hopkins University professor P.M. Forni addressed nearly 120 people in a lecture on civility at Jesse Wrench Auditorium in Memorial Union.

In 1997, during what he calls a midlife crisis, Forni developed his own definition of the word and created a campaign called the Johns Hopkins Civility Project to promote inclusiveness on campus.

To Forni, civility is the "benevolent awareness of others."

"In the first part of our life, we pursue beauty," Forni said. "In the second part we pursue goodness."

Today, the campaign has spread to college campuses around the country. This year, MU is taking part and civility will headline the 2012 MizzouDiversity Summit at the end of October.

In his lecture, Forni advised that community outreach activities could make an awareness campaign successful at MU.

"No society can survive and thrive if there is no level of goodness," Forni said.

Forni said that in today’s digital revolution, a lack of civility is even more prominent.

He said problems that used to be limited to secondary schools have now crept into higher education. He believes students come into a classroom with the mindset that they don't need the teachers to learn because of easy access to information on the Internet.

The quality of life depends on the quality of our relationships, and the quality of those relationships rely on respect and the way people treat each other, Forni said.

"Very little is more important than treating others with care," he said.

Supervising editor Zach Murdock.

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Mitchell Moore August 23, 2012 | 10:24 a.m.

Sounds like an interesting speaker with good ideas for inter-personal civility.

Political discourse will remain course because our society has devolved into a corrupt battle between groups fighting over tax dollars. Both major parties favor government power.

Big government supporters blame the victim. They take the attitude that, "We would not have to use force to take your earnings and property if only you would give it to us voluntarily."

I do not imagine the professor addressed civility on that level.

Perhaps the SEC culture will help us on civility between individuals. Children are taught at an early age to address others as "sir" or "madam" and just that little show of respect makes some difference.

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