University 101 Programs

Seizing Civility: Between Conflict and Community

By exploring aspects of civility and the different contexts in which it can flourish, this interactive presentation will help students examine how their values and behavior impacts their environment. Through individual reflection, class discussions and group processing, students will define their personal values, learn about destructive and constructive methods for resolving conflict, and develop strategies for principled conflict resolution. Students will author their own Creed and an action plan of how they can bring civility to the Carolinian community.

Learning Outcomes

The “Seizing Civility” presentation supports University 101 learning outcomes:

II. Help Students Discover and Connect With the University of South Carolina

b. Develop and apply skills that contribute to building positive relationships with peers, staff and faculty.

Many of our new students’ transitions are apparent, but learning to navigate managing conflict with roommates and professors is rarely addressed. This presentation focuses on students’ understanding of their interactions with the different parties in their new life.  By discussing how those interactions can break down, students identify the ways they can effectively manage that conflict in a fair and responsible manner. Through this, students will develop skills to build stronger relationships and uphold civility in their relationships and actions.

c. Describe what it means to be a Carolinian in context of the history, traditions, and culture of the University.

A large portion of this presentation is focused on the Carolinian Creed.  As the values statement of the university, the Carolinian Creed captures what it means to be a Carolinian and is a major component of the university’s history, traditions, and culture. By spending time studying and personalizing the Creed, students develop a stronger attachment to the university and a more refined identity of themselves as Gamecocks.

III. Prepare Students for Responsible Lives in a Diverse, Interconnected, and Changing World

c. Describe and demonstrate principles of responsible citizenship within and beyond the campus community.

Throughout this presentation participants will explore personal values and actions of responsible citizenship. Students will explore the values espoused by the Carolinian Creed and develop an understanding of how their values intersect. Finally, students make commitments to apply their values to an action that affects the community around them. 

As a result of attending this presentation students will:

  • Examine their values and how their choices reflect their values.
  • Differentiate between productive and destructive tactics for resolving interpersonal conflict and develop strategies for productive conflict resolution.
  • Personalize the Carolinian Creed and leave with a manageable action step to promote the Carolinian Creed.

Presentation Outline:


  1. Introduction Ground Rules

  2. Topics for today’s discussion
    1. Personal Values. This is a chance for us to see what is important to us and how we live them out.
    2. Community Values. We’ll also be contrasting our values with the values of a community and the effects those have. You’re now a part of a community that is much bigger than your family or high school.
    3. How to resolve conflict. Who’s had a roommate conflict so far? And who feels comfortable addressing it? That’s what we will talk about today.
    4. Carolinian Creed. We’re going to take some time to reflect on the ideals that the USC community strives to live by through the framework of the Carolinian Creed.
  3. What is civility?
    1. Discussion questions include:
      1. "What are examples of incivility on campus?”
      2.  “What are examples of civility on campus?”
      3.  “What is civility?”
        1. An individual act or a manner of behaving which conforms to social expectations or standards.
    2. Explain what civility is at USC:
      1. Who knows what the Carolinian Creed is? Can someone explain the Creed?
      2. The Creed can be broken down into five key words to help make it easier to remember. 
      3. Integrity – I will practice personal & academic integrity
      4. Acceptance – I will respect the dignity of all persons
      5. Respect – I will respect the rights and property of others
      6. Leadership – I will discourage bigotry, while striving to learn from difference in people, ideas & opinions.
      7. Compassion – I will demonstrate concern for others, their feelings and their need for conditions which support their work & development.
    3. Connecting civility and values
      1. Your values play a key role in the actions and decisions you make, but how often do you stop and analyze how you prioritize your values?
      2. How do we know what we consider important? 

Values Frames

  1. Purpose
    1. Have students begin to think critically about what values they hold and the values the community holds
    2. Help students see the effect certain values have on the community
  2. Values Frame: Overview and Introduction
    • Our background helps to define certain things that we individually value.
    • Certain communities have varying values. You can place these different communities into frames that help to shape your view.
      • World values frame
      • Narrows into the country specific values
      • State/Regional values
      • School/Community values
      • Family values
      • Personal values
    • Values Frame Activity
      1. For the purposes of this activity, let’s start with what USC’s values frame looks like.
        1. Show visual of USC displaying values from our mission statement, Carolinian Creed and traditions of our University.
        2. Ask if the class has any additional values to add to our USC values frame.
      2. After discussing USC’s values frame, ask each student to determine their own values frame.
        1. P ass out handouts and provide students with a frame to which they can develop their values (group into 3-4 students for each frame)
        2. Individual values frame
        3. Family values frame
        4. Cultural values frame
      3. After students have filled out their worksheet, ask for a few people to share their values frame
        1. Ask each student to post their frame on top of the USC values frames while they explain their lens.
      4. Debrief Questions
        1. What
          1. What surprised you about this activity?
          2. What was difficult?
          3. What was easy?
        2. So What
          1. Do you see any correlation between USC’s values and your individual values? If so, what?
          2. How do your values (and the values of others) impact your daily life?
          3. What is something you’ve done in the last 24 hours that shows one of your top values?
          4. W hat would this campus be like without its own values?  (people would hit pedestrians, cheating would be acceptable)
        3. Now What
          1. How can you seve as a role model in upholding your values through your actions?
          2. How do USC’s values intersect and affect your personal values?
          3. How does being a part of a larger community call upon you to be flexible?

      Conflict Resolution  

    1. Conflict Case Study
    2. Debrief:
      1. What was the conflict here?
      2. Where was the breakdown in civility? What was it?
      3. How could it have been resolved differently?
      4. Who were the people who said honesty/sincerity/respect was a top value of yours? If you were Sarah, how would your response differ if you went with your initial reaction as opposed to creating your response through the value’s lens?
    3.  Types of Conflict 
      1. Pass out Fair fighting handout
      2. One side has common examples of the destructive and nonproductive ways in which we fight. The other has some Guidelines for Fair Fighting, or ways we can address conflict appropriately.
      3. In groups of 2 or 3, decide what types of conflicts were in the case study we just reviewed and identify one of the guidelines we could have implemented instead.
      4. Additionally, discuss ways that you typically fight and what strategies you could implement to fight more fairly.
      5. At the end of the 5 minutes, bring the group together and share
        1. What were some of the common threads we see when it comes to addressing conflict appropriately?
        2.  Why do you think we don’t follow those ways?
    4. Addressing future conflict
      1. Determine when and how you would approach this person
      2. Determine your message -- be sure to make sure you’re
        1. Being respectful
        2. Using “I” statements
      3. Be open
        1. Remember it’s about working toward a “win-win”
                • Closing
                  1. Closing
                  2. My Creed Activity
                    1. As an institution, we have the Carolinian Creed that states to all students/faculty/staff what our shared values are.  It begins with the key words, “As a Carolinian, I will . . .
                      1. You are our newest Carolinians.  When you say to yourself, “As a Carolinian, I will . . .” what comes next as a reflection of what’s important to you? 
                      2. What kind of legacy do you want to leave?
                      3. Use this template to solidify how you plan to act out your values each day.
                    2. Ask people to share one way they are going to live the Creed.
                    3. Challenge the class to complete a Random Act of Creed. (Each student receives a small card displaying their random act). If every person in the class completes the challenge, then they will be entered into a drawing for a class prize.
                    4. Pass out assessments

                  Presentation Length

                  50 minutes or 75 minutes
                  The 50 minute class would allow for shorter reflection time of the activities to allow for all of the content to be covered.

                  Presenter Training

                  Presentations are given in pairs consisting of an undergraduate student and either a professional staff member or a Graduate Assistant from the Office of Student Conduct.

                  Undergraduate presenters are recruited from within the Office of Student Conduct’s Carolina Judicial Council (CJC), and must complete an application process in order to be selected. Students are specifically used to facilitate this presentation to help new students better connect with the community values, individual values, and positive resolution options advocated by their peers. In addition to their CJC training, undergraduate presenters also receive facilitation training on the following topics:

              • Connecting with an audience
              • Debriefing group experiences
              • Values exploration
              • Leading reflection activities
              • Facilitation styles
              • Adaptability
              • Dealing with difficult students