The Conviction Project Overview

The Conviction Project consists of a series of informal discussions and conversations on video with people in the public eye and from different walks of life, including non-profits, academia, business, entertainment and more. They have demonstrated the ability to communicate their personal convictions while doing so in an inclusive, understanding, respectful, and humble manner.

From a research perspective, personal conviction, as a moral, cultural, and emotional concept, has largely escaped scrutiny, with only a few studies investigating what is defined as “an unshakeable belief in something, without seeking evidence”; or, as the Oxford English Dictionary has it, “a firm and settled persuasion.” Beliefs are based on certain sets of values, but what about the much stronger term “conviction”? Where do our convictions come from? Why do they compel us to certain actions? Are they generated or maintained by certain affects? How do we communicate them to those around us? And can we listen when conviction clashes with conviction?

These questions are at the core of this project as we are looking for ways to repair fissures and tears in our social tissue. We live in a time where the loudest, and often most caustic, voices appear to garner the lion’s share of national attention. Where divisiveness gets rewarded and polarization is often the result, it is critical to demonstrate that there are other paths we can take towards a more civil national discourse. The Conviction Project seeks to engage and present people with ideas for such possibilities in public debate.

The Conviction Project is an element of the public engagement and research effort within the Humility and Conviction in Public Life Project housed at the University of Connecticut. For more information on the HCPL project please consult the panel on the right.

Conviction, according to the OED:

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