P.M. Forni, PhD, an author and professor at Johns Hopkins University
(JHU) who has devoted much of his career to espousing civility, told
more than 400 people at the University
of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) that more thoughtful engagement with
one another would improve the quality of their lives.
Forni's lecture on May 6 drew such a large audience that his remarks
were relayed to an adjacent venue at the Southern
Management Corporation Campus Center and streamed online. His
topic: "Significance of civility, manners, and politeness in
Civility is one of the University's core values, as stated in the UMB 2011-2016 strategic plan:
The University expects interactions to be professional, ethical,
respectful, and courteous.
Perman expressed his personal commitment to civility as an
essential virtue in academic settings and in the delivery of health
care and human services. The president launched the 2012-13 symposium
series of speakers last August.
A group of president's
fellows gathered information during the series and through their
own scholarship on the topic to prepare a report that was made
available at the event. One of several recommendations was to appoint a civility commission.
Forni told the UMB audience that quality of life, individually and collectively, depends on relationships. These in turn depend on our relational skills. "My message is very simple," he said. "When it comes to relating to one another, civility and good manners give us everything we need to know."
Forni published a best-selling book, Choosing
Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct, in 2002,
and The Civility Solution: What to
Do When People Are Rude, published in 2008. The advice is
practical with admonitions such as "Acknowledge others," and "Pay
Forni's work has been mentioned in national and foreign publications,
and he has appeared on a number of radio and television shows in the
United States and Europe. Forni is originally from Italy, and
translations of Choosing Civility are
available in Italian and German.
In 1997, he founded the Johns Hopkins Civility Project. That became The
Civility Initiative at Johns Hopkins, which Forni directs. Described as
"an aggregation of academic and community outreach activities," the
initiative's purpose includes assessment of the significance of
civility, manners, and politeness in contemporary society.
Forni is a professor in the JHU Department of Romance Languages and
Literatures. He was the recipient of a School of Continuing Studies and
JHU Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Award for 1998.
After the lecture, Forni's books were made available for purchase at a book-signing held in conjunction with a reception. The author signed personal inscriptions for several fellows in attendance. Shown below are, from left to right, Mazen El Ghaziri, School of Nursing; Abdalla Aly, School of Pharmacy; Forni; Oksana Mishler, Graduate School/School of Dentistry; and Ian Clark, UM Carey School of Law.