On a warm September morning on the academic quad, a group of students is having a serious conversation, but it’s not about being inundated with homework or what’s on the menu at Curtis. Here, at the heart of campus, they have created what they call a “safe space” to hold an intentional discussion, complete with popcorn and juice. They are trained members of Sustained Dialogue, and they’re trying to make the world a better place, one conversation at a time.
Sustained Dialogue (SD) is a student-run initiative at Denison, and it’s part of a much larger movement that is supported by the International Institute for Sustained Dialogue. Simply put, members of SD solve problems through communication. Several SD groups meet throughout the campus and invite students, faculty, and staff to discuss pretty much anything and everything, but especially those topics that often elicit varying emotional points of view. No subject is off limits, and the goal is not to have all parties move toward common ground. Rather, it’s to share differing opinions and perceptions, and to acknowledge and understand their differences in a respectful way, becoming better informed and more valuable community members in the process.
Sounds like a plan that could make a difference. Watch the video to learn more from the students’ perspective.