February 16, 2024

Sylvia Légère Teaches Students How to Influence Their Communities

Sylvia Légère speaks to students

PBA News

On Thursday, February 8, PBA’s LeMieux Center for Public Policy invited Sylvia Légère, a renowned author and investor who promotes active participation in public policy through civil discourse, to advise students and community members on fostering a productive community that accommodates different viewpoints.

When Sylvia Légère arrived in America from Canada, she was captivated by the boundless opportunities and the spirit of innovation she found in American institutions. However, she noted a challenge in initiating meaningful dialogues concerning the common good. She observed that the prevailing media narratives, often focused on crisis and conflict, and the polarized nature of political campaigns could hinder productive conversations and unity among the American populace.

Not satisfied with the limited exchange of ideas, Sylvia Légère set up a forum where women could come together to discuss public policy. This led to her establishing The Policy Circle, which ignites civil engagement in women across the nation.

Embracing Civil Discourse

Légère explained that engaging with others helps build trust. The connections and common ground found through discourse advance society by bringing people together to discover solutions for common problems. For her, civil discourse is a foundational block that allows us to treat each other with kindness and respect.

“It [civil discourse] involves listening, understanding, and thoughtful exchange even when you disagree,” Légère said.

According to Légère, the first step to creating a thriving community through civil discourse is to have the right mindset. She believes it is essential to be patient, exhibit self-control, not shut down the points of views of others and model the behavior you would like to be around. Légère acknowledges that this may be hard because humans are so often concerned with being right that they forget to listen and are not careful in their treatment of others.

“If you want to be yelled at, yell. But if you want to be talked to with respect and dignity, you need to be the first to speak with an open heart,” Légère said.

The second element necessary when creating a diverse community is curiosity. Légère thinks the best compliment someone can ever receive is to be remembered as curious. She explained that curiosity requires grace, courage, and the knowledge to ask the right questions.

Promoting curious conversation involves framing the issue and understanding the perspective of others. Ensuring everyone discusses the same subject helps avoid miscommunication and eliminates unnecessary conflict. Meanwhile, letting other people share their points of view allows solutions proposed by people directly affected and passionate individuals to be heard.

“Questions are so much more powerful than statements,” Légère said.

Légère says that civil discourse is a great way to interact with representatives at every level of government. Whether trying to enact change in local, state, or federal government, polite conversation is much more impactful than yelling confrontations. Civil discourse allows the individual to participate in government instead of just observing by ensuring their voices can be heard above all the noise and drama of politics.

Légère hopes students at PBA will be able to organize events that promote the free expression of ideas and take advantage of The Policy Circle’s ideas and resources to create better community and real change.

“Let your light shine, and have the courage to host the difficult conversations,” Légère said.

Mission of the LeMieux Center for Public Policy

The LeMieux Center for Public Policy at Palm Beach Atlantic University provides a space for reasoned, thoughtful, and civil discourse on pressing public policy issues confronting Florida, the United States, and the world. Learn more about the mission of the center and other upcoming events here.

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