Naming the Goods: Thoughts on Civic Reflection


Lisa Yun Lee






Civic reflection at its best is infused with this spirit of critical generosity. It is a process that acknowledges that we need one another to unmask prejudices that inform our beliefs and also to share our inspirations.


--Lisa Lee

Director, Jane Addams Hull-House Museum


Community DevelopmentDialogue Across DifferencesSkill-Building


​Lisa Yun Lee is the Director of the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum in Chicago. Lee's essay, "Naming the Goods: Thoughts on Civic Reflection" is divided into three parts. Part I, "On Believing Again," explores Lee's journey from being cynical about the power of dialogue to believing in it again. Part II, "Reflection and Narcissism," explores the difference between the "self-absorbed gaze" and civic reflection. As Lee puts it: "As a communal process of engagement with others, [civic reflection] forces us out of our own skins and also creates the opening and opportunity to escape the logic of consumerism." Finally, in Part III, "Our Common Welfare. On the Arts and Humanities," Lee discusses her work at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum and her belief that "reading poetry and literature, listening to music and immersing ourselves in the humanities provide... accurate clues to the quality of our common life together." These three sections help to explain the value of reflection and dialogue and the importance of using the humanities to spark meaningful conversation and exchange between people.