Mason professor offers course in civility

“Mediocrity is no longer an option for George Mason students,” says Leslie Morton.

Morton isn’t talking about aptitude or academics; she’s talking about good manners.

“We should never sink to the lowest common denominator,” she adds.

Morton, a professor in the College of Education and Human Development, began teaching a one-credit professionalism and civility course in the fall of 2010.

Morton says that her class is the only one of its kind being taught in the United States.

“I’m so proud Mason has this program,” she says.  “It’s all about taking what you know and practicing it. Technology should never take the place of the spoken word.”

At a time when public discourse is increasingly dictated by the venomous environment of the Internet and following a spate of high-profile suicides related to cyber-bullying, Morton’s message of restraint and politeness has touched a chord; between the fall 2010 and spring 2011 semesters the class quadrupled in size.

“I see myself as a success coach,” Morton says, explaining that she emphasizes the importance of attitude, attire, behavior, and discipline. “This is very repetitious, involving constant reinforcement, and making those right choices. Civility is all about polishing.” 

Mason is scheduled to holds its first-ever Civility Week in the fall of 2011. Its theme will be “The Green and Golden Rule” and organizers will attempt to promote tolerance and inclusion around campus with fun and meaningful activities. 

“It all ties in together with peacekeeping,” says Morton.

Professionalism and civility will be taught on the Fairfax campus next fall on Wednesdays.

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