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Posted on Tue, Jan 17, 2012 : 11:27 a.m.

Let's Try talking about values in person, starting Jan. 22

By Wayne Baker

Editor's note: This post is part of a series by Dr. Baker on Our Values about core American values.

For a couple of years, I have been sharing weekly columns from my OurValues series with readers of, and you have been wonderful about responding online. OurValues is part of a nationwide project, hosted on a daily basis at, demonstrating that civil dialogue is possible even on red-hot topics involving values.

Now, I want to see if civil dialogue also is possible in person. Since I teach at the University of Michigan and live in Ann Arbor, the First United Methodist Church at 120 S. State St. has invited me to explore these issues at the church.

For four weeks, starting this Sunday, Jan. 22, from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., I will facilitate dialogue about values and ethics. Together, we will see what's possible in discussing themes such as political civility, religious tolerance, economic justice and more.

This class is a pilot to help me develop ways of sharing this idea nationally. I am inviting any readers who care to join us at the church for these four weeks. The series is free and open to the public in the church's Asbury Room, which is on the building's lower level.

To help us plan, please visit the church's website at and register your intention to attend the series. Many of you have posted comments in the OurValues series, so you know the kinds of questions I raise.

My series will continue, as always. But, starting Sunday, you also can join other local men and women in a weekly, in-person dialogue. As a bonus, you'll find that the Sunday conversations are a preview of the new OurValues theme each week. Our goal is to show that civil discourse about explosive and complicated issues is possible and welcome. Come along. Join the experiment — in person, this time.

Dr. Wayne E. Baker is a sociologist on the faculty of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Baker blogs daily at Our Values and can be reached at or on Facebook.