SNF Ithaca National Student Dialogue participants ask questions and collaborate during breakout sessions.
Photos by Evan Krape
May 11, 2022
Students and faculty from across the country gather at UD to discuss civil discourse
The Joseph R. Biden, Jr. School of Public Policy and Administration at the University of Delaware hosted nearly 20 academic institutions nationwide for its first Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Ithaca National Student Dialogue in Delaware in April.
Nearly 100 student ambassadors and administrators from 16 universities, colleges and schools across the United States, including the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership; Saint Anslem and Simpson Colleges; American, Colorado State, Delaware State, Florida International, Georgetown, James Madison, Johns Hopkins and Tufts Universities; and the universities of Chicago, Michigan, New Hampshire, San Francisco and Virginia joined students, faculty, staff and distinguished guests of the Biden School for an invigorating three-day dialogue on civil discourse. The weekend kicked off April 22 with a welcome reception hosted on campus by Biden Institute President Valerie Biden Owens, followed by two days of programming at the Chase Center on the Riverfront in Wilmington, Delaware.
“On behalf of the school and the SNF Ithaca Initiative, I was very pleased to help welcome students and scholars to this inaugural event,” said Maria Aristigueta, Biden School Dean and President. of Public Administration Charles P. Messick. “At the Biden School, we recognize and prioritize the promotion of civility and discourse across political and philosophical divides. It was encouraging to see such a diverse group from across the country come together to work on these important issues.
The dialogue provided attendees with an introduction to civil discourse and civic engagement, as well as a unique opportunity to engage with their peers from across the United States about the challenges they face on their campuses, and then find workshop solutions through UD expert presentations and facilitated exercises. Highlights of the weekend also included an evening of Wilmington Blue Rocks baseball and an appearance by actor Chris Evans, known for his role as Captain America in the popular Marvel Avengers film series, as well as his work with A Starting. Point – video-based civics. engagement platform that helps create a bipartisan channel of communication and connection between Americans and their elected officials. Thanks to the generous support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), participants participated in the event completely free of charge.
Students participating in the SNF Ithaca National Student Dialogue meet with Valerie Biden Owens, President of the Biden Institute at the University of Delaware.
“The SNF Ithaca initiative has the potential to transform the way people on our campuses, and ultimately the citizens of our country, are able to work together despite differences and to have collective impact and solve problems. critical issues we all face,” the SNF President of Civil Speech recently named. says Timothy Shaffer. It began the dialogue by framing civil discourse within the larger context of the state of democracy.
“We often think of civil discourse as politeness, but we also need to think of it as being responsive to others and to our common challenges, embracing a ‘strong’ form of civil discourse that includes dialogue, deliberation and listening. depth, as well as protest and civil disobedience,” Shaffer said. “We must recognize that ideas about How? ‘Or’ What we are supposed to talk can sometimes prevent us from Why we should involve others, especially when we have deep differences.
After the success of the Biden school SNF Ithaca National Civil Discourse Summit in fall 2021, the April Dialogue aimed to inspire and equip students and administrators to return to their institutions with the knowledge and skills to navigate conflict using civil discourse, as well as to implement and adapt solutions based on their new experience.
“Dialogue students shared ideas and learned new perspectives from each other that will help them move forward in this work and further the goals of civil discourse and civic engagement, including how to identify and determine groups of stakeholders they should bring together to address challenges and how to foster healthy relationships for productive problem solving,” Shaffer said. “Approaching civil discourse through the lens of public policy allowed students to come away with names to call and action to address the real challenges facing their campuses.”
Samiyah Sherman, student leader of SNF Ithaca, presented a case study on civil discourse during the event.
“It meant a lot to me to be part of this dialogue with so many students from across the country,” Sherman said. “By facilitating my one-on-one session…I saw how much my peers understood the [content]. I believe that by participating in the dialogue, the students were able to see how civil discourse works and how they could use it in other contexts.
UD students Samiya Sherman, Sarah Cullen, Moses Martinez, and Luke Halko, along with SNF Ithaca Principal Pablo McConnie-Saad (center), participate as the first cohort of SNF Ithaca students in the National Student Dialogue event.
The Biden School’s SNF Ithaca Initiative is a new civil discourse and civic engagement program at UD supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF). Named after the house of Odysseus – one of the greatest leaders in Greek mythology, whose talent for persuasive speech was revered in ancient Greece – SNF Ithaca not only serves as the UD’s base for speech but also a national hub where students from across the country can come together and develop the civic engagement skills that will strengthen our democracy.
To learn more about the Biden School’s SNF Ithaca initiative and its work to unite students in the spirit of civic engagement, visit bidenschool.udel.edu/snfithaca.
About UD Biden School
Established in 1961 and named in 2018 in honor of the University of Delaware’s most distinguished alumnus, the 46th President of the United States, the Joseph R. Biden, Jr. School of Public Policy and Administration prepares students with the knowledge and skills to engage in research and public service activities to improve the quality of life in communities around the world. Biden School faculty, staff, students, and alumni create and use interdisciplinary, nonpartisan research and empirical analysis to inform effective decision-making and policy and to improve leadership and administration. The Biden School partners with organizations across all sectors to discover innovative and equitable solutions to the critical challenges of our time.
About the SNF Ithaca Initiative
In the fall of 2021, the Biden School launched a new civil discourse and civic engagement pilot program supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF). Called on SNF Ithaca Initiative, the program is named after the house of Odysseus, one of the greatest leaders of Greek mythology, whose talent for persuasive speech was revered in ancient Greece. For Odysseus, Ithaca represents not only the beginning of a journey but the ultimate destination. Likewise, the SNF Ithaca initiative will serve as both the beginning of our students’ journey to become effective citizens and the ultimate destination for students across the country to come together and develop the civic engagement skills that will strengthen our democracy. .
About the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF)
the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNSF) is one of the world’s leading international private philanthropic organizations, providing grants to non-profit organizations in the areas of arts and culture, education, health and sports, and social welfare. SNF funds organizations and projects around the world that aim to achieve broad, lasting and positive impact for society as a whole, and demonstrate strong leadership and sound management. SNF also supports projects that facilitate the formation of public-private partnerships as an effective way to serve public welfare. Since 1996, the Foundation has committed more than $3.3 billion through more than 5,100 grants to nonprofit organizations in more than 135 countries around the world.