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First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross

UNF Civil Discourse Forum Asks, Where Do We Come From?

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When people with opposing views come to the table, it can often be a bitter battle to prove superiority instead of a respectful conversation.This idea will be tested next week during a panel discussion of the University of North Florida’s civil discourse forum titled "Faith and Reason: the Origin of Humanity."

Dr. Julie Ingersoll, associate professor of religious studies at the University of North Florida and a panelist at the event, spoke with Melissa Ross in about the upcoming discussion.  

Speakers at the discussion will include faith leaders, a doctor and a biology professor. They will address two questions: Where do we come from and why are we here?

Ingesroll said that one the great things about this series is the tackling of issues that may not have shared community answers.

“The goal is not really to answer the question,” Ingersoll said. “The goal is to have a conversation where people who often don’t talk to each other have an opportunity to do that.”

Ingersoll said it’s important to emphasize this in our community right now because of regular issues that play out in the public arena that hint at this topic.

“There are now 14 states across the country that through voucher systems and charter schools, fund the public education in situations where creationism is taught,” Ingersoll said.

“There are people who are concerned about that and also people who think that’s really important and a great idea, so that’s kind of a flash point.”

UNF’s President John Delaney will be moderating the discussion set to place on stage at UNF’s Fine Arts Center. Ingersoll said Delaney is good at fostering civil discourse.  

In October, Delaney moderated the first event of the civil discourse forum on the topic of public prayer.  Ingersoll said this discussion was one that’s she’s most proud of done in Jacksonville.

She said that prior to the event, panelist Ronald Baker, Senior Pastor at Russell Baptist Church, was nervous to be attacked.

"He went away saying that he understood better why some people found public prayer in the manner problematic," Ingersoll said. "But also the people who don’t like the sectarian form of public prayer went away understanding why someone like Pastor Baker might feel uncomfortable praying in a different manner."

Ingersoll said she certainly will not be advocating a particular science curriculum but rather opening the floor for discussion.

The discussion is scheduled to take place April 29 at UNF’s Andrew A. Robinson Theater at 7 p.m.

You can follow Melissa Ross @MelissainJax and Lindsey Kilbride @lindskilbride.

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Melissa Ross joined WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. During her career as a television and radio news anchor and reporter, Melissa has won four regional Emmys for news and feature reporting.
Lindsey Kilbride was WJCT's special projects producer until Aug. 28, 2020. She reported, hosted and produced podcasts like Odd Ball, for which she was honored with a statewide award from the Associated Press, as well as What It's Like. She also produced VOIDCAST, hosted by Void magazine's Matt Shaw, and the ADAPT podcast, hosted by WJCT's Brendan Rivers.