‘Dialogue Across Grounds’ Offers Students a Forum for Exploring Different Perspectives

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An initiative coordinated by the University of Virginia’s Office of the President will provide students a setting in which they can share and explore different perspectives, with a goal of bridging ideological differences and creating mutual understanding and respect.

The “Dialogue Across Grounds” series begins Oct. 13 at 12:30 p.m. with a free lunch in the Newcomb Hall Ballroom. Those interested can find more information and RSVP to attend here.

“Our goal is to bring students with diverse perspectives together to hold meaningful conversations around important topics,” UVA President Jim Ryan said. “This is a student-centered event, and we want to encourage listening and understanding among all who participate.”

The series, which initially includes five sessions during the academic semester, is one of several outreach efforts Ryan has announced to help generate more engagement with and among students and to advance efforts to find common ground within the UVA community. The series is designed to complement other dialogue-based work on Grounds, such as the Hoos Connected program and student organizations like Sustained Dialogue.

“Dialogue Across Grounds” might sound familiar, and that’s for good reason. The original version of “Dialogue Across Grounds” brought together students, faculty and staff for facilitated conversation about timely topics. The earlier program ran from 2010 to 2017.

“There is something special about having the opportunity to engage in dialogues with people who bring a variety of perspectives to the table,” said Moises Mendoza, project manager of Dialogue Across Grounds, who earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from UVA. “I’m looking forward to seeing students use this initiative to continue looking out for one another and foster an inclusive environment. I hope this series will be a chance for students to connect with peers they may have never met otherwise, and to continue their conversations outside of these lunches.”

The dialogues starting this month will explore topics that deal with UVA’s “community of trust,” such as building bridges and fostering connections across difference. Conversations will be held in small groups and facilitated by trained student moderators. Attendees will be assigned to groups to ensure that students with different backgrounds, ages and interests are represented in each dialogue.

“I’m excited about the conversations prompted by the new iteration of ‘Dialogue Across Grounds,’” Ryan said. “A university is an ideal place for encouraging respectful discussion, asking questions and listening to others’ views. I hope these lunch sessions will be just the beginning of many meaningful interactions in this series and beyond.”

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