Moraine Valley Community College is encouraging people to have real, open conversations they might otherwise be afraid to discuss publicly through its Difficult Conversations Initiative.

Kevin Navratil, Moraine Valley political science professor, and Dr. DeWitt Scott, student support specialist, collaborated to create the Difficult Conversations Initiative for the Democracy Commitment on campus. Throughout the next few months, they will lead virtual discussions on various challenging topics not necessarily talked about every day.

“I know there is lots of polarization, and the quality of conversations is poor,” Navratil said. “Difficult conversations might mean different things to different people. We’re picking topics not discussed much to spark conversation.”

The two paired up after Navratil came across the book “Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know,” which touches on how ineffective it is to debate, argue and try to convince someone your side is correct. Instead, the book emphasizes listening to each other, understanding where people come from and how everyone has a shared humanity. Then, Navratil discovered online videos Scott had made for Moraine Reads (a collaborative effort of book recommendations between the Moraine Valley Library and Communications Department to promote reading) about impactful nonfiction books he recommends, and he reached out.

“We chose topics that are prevalent, political, but we’re peeling back the layers, not in a politically correct way where you walk on eggshells. We want to address questions people are thinking about but don’t speak of,” Scott explained.

“Campuses shouldn’t shy away from heated or controversial topics. We want people to feel safe. I want this to be something to grow and not just be one semester. I want it built into the culture and for Moraine Valley to keep the conversations going,” Navratil said. “It’s not designed to be a lecture. We’re not changing minds but integrating and processing others’ perspectives that might be new to you while having enough empathy to then view as legitimate.”

“I want to finally have conversations about these topics without news soundbites that are sensationalism, not learning. We want talk that respects everyone, to see what they think, the way they think and vice versa and understand. Maybe down the line you’ll change a perspective,” Scott added.

Future Difficult Conversations Initiative topics include:

March 22, 1 p.m. – Why doesn’t the majority always rule?: How America’s political system can thwart the will of the people

April 5, 1 p.m. – Do college campuses have a problem with cancel culture, ‘wokeism’ and free speech?

April 19, 1 p.m. – How cultural issues such as transgender bathrooms, Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, immigration, shifting to remote learning for K-12 public education, and defunding the police influence elections

May 3, 1 p.m. – Examining the erosion of democracy in the U.S.

For links to one of these virtual conversations, visit


For news media inquiries, contact Maura Vizza, Moraine Valley communications specialist and sports information coordinator, at (708) 974-5742 or