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UMB Welcomes Civility Expert P.M. Forni


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 contemporary society."
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.

President Jay A. Perman, MD, (above left with Forni) welcomed Forni to UMB as the culminating event in a yearlong exploration of civility by the President's Symposium and White Paper Project. The project is jointly sponsored by the Office of the President and by the Office of Interprofessional Student Learning & Service Initiatives.

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 attention."

To make his writings more widely available on campus, the Health Sciences and Human Services Library is offering copies of Choosing Civility that can be borrowed by students, faculty, and staff.

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.


Dr. Forni and fellows

Posting Date: 05/06/2013
Contact Name: Patricia Fanning
Contact Phone: 410-706-7946
Contact Email: pfanning@umaryland.edu