Release Date: 
Thursday, August 10, 2023

Celebrated journalists will lead Civility Night at HFC

Event Date: 
Wed, 09/27/2023 - 6:30pm to 8:30pm
Andrew A. Mazzara Administrative Services & Conference Center (ASCC) (Building L) Forfa Auditorium
Nolan Finley on the left and Stephen Henderson on the right with a blue-green background.
From L-R: Journalists Nolan Finley and Stephen Henderson have been close friends for a long time, even though they disagree on pretty much everything, they joked. As part of the Civility Project, they help people learn how to disagree in a polite and respectful manner.

The HFC Democracy Institute and the Great Lakes Civility Project will host Civility Night at HFC with renowned journalists Nolan Finley and Stephen Henderson on Wednesday, September 27, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Forfa Auditorium on the first floor of the Andrew A. Mazzara Administrative Services & Conference Center (ASCC) (Building L) on the main campus.

Register here for this free event
Registration is not required, but your registration will help us plan breakout sessions!

The Civility Project’s goal is to build healthy disagreement and constructive dialogue. The Civility Project will teach you how to:

  • Agree to disagree
  • Engage in civil conversation
  • Build respect for each other’s humanity
  • Learn to listen to other perspectives
  • Use what you hear to challenge or affirm your own views
  • Stay curious
  • Agree to always return to the conversation
  • See the person beyond their politics
  • Understand that a conversation is not a competition

Disagree vigorously and still be friends? Here's how

Finley of The Detroit News and Henderson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who worked at the Detroit Free Press and founder of BridgeDetroit, have different perspectives on pretty much everything. Despite their differences, they have been longtime friends. The one thing they agree on is the importance of their friendship, which includes a healthy dose of disagreement and mutual respect.

“It never occurred to us that we couldn’t be friends because we disagree,” said Finley.

Americans have a long history of engaging in civil conversation with people of opposing viewpoints and would have spirited, healthy debates. This is becoming a lost art. Today, many Americans believe they cannot be friends with people who have vastly different political viewpoints.

What is civility and why does it matter?

The Civility Project seeks to bring people of differing viewpoints together for healthy disagreement, personal interactions, and constructive conversations. Participants will engage in enlightening discussion, learn to listen to others, and learn why listening is important.

“We must step back and learn to talk to people as people rather than as adversaries,” said Henderson.

The Civility Project places people before the moment of disagreement in discussion of how we arrive at our beliefs and viewpoints.

"We cannot have democracy if we believe that those who we disagree with are evil and we aim to discredit them by demonizing them,” said HFC political science instructor Dr. Anthony Perry. “Civility works when we are willing to listen and engage with others even when we disagree with their stance on issues and politics."

For questions or more information, contact Perry at (313) 845-6383 or

RELATED CONTENT: Nolan Finley and Stephen Henderson interview on Fox2 News

In October of 2022, Finley and Henderson spoke with Fox2 News about civility. Watch the 4.5-minute video below.