Georgetown Dialogues Initiative

One of the learning goals stated for the undergraduate core curriculum is “…as participants in an intellectual community, students learn to … engage in difficult dialogues around challenging ideas.”

Day-to-day that learning goal is achieved by talented faculty teaching alternative perspectives to the content they’re covering, exercising skills of grappling with opposing viewpoints. Increasingly, however, students are entering Georgetown with lower capacities to engage in this kind of dialogue. Given the polarization in today’s world, it is rare for young people to witness respective dialogue among persons holding opposing viewpoints. Lacking that exposure, their capacity for such engagement can be underdeveloped. Further, the social media canceling of those who speak in opposition to any idea generates self-censorship for fear of exclusion.

The Georgetown Dialogues Initiative will evolve over time with the aim of giving all Georgetown students exposure to and personal experiences in respectful dialogue between persons with opposing viewpoints. The Dialogues Initiative will achieve this goal through three separate programs:

GDI First-Year Seminar Faculty Fellows

A cohort of faculty teaching first-year seminars will convene to consider alternative ways to promote the values of dialogue within first-year seminars. This cohort will meet regularly, exchange ideas, and engage in efforts to design innovative pedagogy focused on dialogue. Another set of first-year seminar faculty will receive curricular innovation grants to support particular innovations within their classes. This work will be supported by the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship (CNDLS). 

GDI Spotlight Courses

The GDI Spotlight Courses are new or substantially reimagined courses that will be focused on promoting productive dialogue across differences. In some cases, this will involve faculty co-teaching in areas where there may be significant disagreement within and across disciplines. In other cases, faculty will design solo taught courses that will foreground the value of dialogue. Faculty teaching these courses will receive intensive support from CNDLS along with course development funds to support their innovations.

GDI Signature Events

The Dialogues Initiative will host signature events in which prominent scholars and other leaders will demonstrate the value of productive dialogue to the broader community. These events will be designed to be different than traditional large public events, focusing on formats that can best highlight the value of dialogue across differences.