CCSNE receives $30,000 Grant from UCHI

Campus Compact for Southern New England (CCSNE) is pleased to announce that is has received a 1-year, $30,000 grant from the University of Connecticut Humanities Institute (UCHI).  CCSNE seeks to improve the depth and breadth of dialogue and deliberation on college and university campuses.

Despite the relatively strong aggregate prosperity of our citizens, our communities are divided in their perspectives, experiences, and ideology. Political discourse in our country has broken down due to polarizing perspectives, divisive strategies by political parties and candidates, and lack of formal structures which seek to bridge the dominant political perspectives.  Higher education institutions are not immune to this challenges.  The rise of student advocacy and public pressures related to addressing issues such as racial equity, sexual violence, micro-aggressions, and rising student costs have put significant strain on the relationships internally among students, faculty, and administrators and externally with the general public and state lawmakers. Bridging these divides in our communities, on and off campus, requires citizens and leaders who are skilled in listening to others, engaging people in productive processes, public decision-making, and community organizing.  As educators and democratic institutions, higher education is well-positioned to be a leader of change in our communities by preparing stakeholders to be successful dialogue, deliberation, and discourse practices.

The University of Connecticut Humanities Institute (UCHI), founded in 2001, seeks to enhance research and creativity in the humanities, broadly defined.  With the generous funding of the John Templeton Foundation, the project on Humility and Conviction in Public Life (HCPL) supports interdisciplinary research and outreach on balancing two key features of democracy: Intellectual Humility and Conviction of Belief. In fulfilling this aim, the project’s goals include investigating the nature of productive dialogue over morality, science, and religion.  In the 2015-2016 academic year, the Public Discourse Project, predecessor to the HCPL, facilitated a number engagement activities including a summer institute for high school teachers on how to incorporate intellectual humility into their classes and the Dialogue on Campus Dialogues workshop at the University of Connecticut including students (graduate and undergraduate), faculty, staff, and practitioners representing Everyday Democracy, Essential Partners [formerly the Public Conversation Project] and the Kettering Foundation.

“It is with great pleasure and excitement that the Humility and Conviction in Public Life project supports Campus Compact for Southern New England’s work democratic deliberation and dialogue,” states Brendan Kane , UCHI’s Assistant Director for Public Humanities. “We have had the good fortune to work for a number of years with its director, Matt Farley, on matching academic research with meaningful public engagement and look to him and CCSNE as models for how higher education institutions can play a positive role in the wider community. This new initiative promises to further that work in innovative ways and with the potential for application nationally. We eagerly look forward to it!”

“We are excited to continue our partnership with UConn’s Humanity Institute, and we’re grateful for their support,” says Matt Farley, CCSNE’s Regional Director. The grant will allow CCSNE to deepen its understanding of dialogue and deliberation practices throughout Southern New England through an asset mapping process.  Results of the practices on campus as well as innovative practices in the field will be shared with members through an expanded online resource bank.  This process will be completed by a graduate student intern. Additionally, CCSNE will offer multiple professional development workshops designed to engage faculty and staff in exploring different dialogue methodologies and engagement strategies which can be used in courses, co-curricular activities, and public engagement initiatives.

“Over the last few years, UConn has significantly advanced its use of dialogic engagement in and out of the classroom.  It has been exciting to see the development of new initiatives that complement an already strong array of campus and community engagement activities,” states Farley.  “The Public Discourse Project and HCPL are great examples of how an institution can make a strategic investment that advances teaching, scholarship, and public engagement as well as leverages external resources.”

Activities related to the grant will occur during the 2017-18 Academic Year.  For questions about CCSNE and this grant, please contact Matt Farley, Regional Director at mfarley {at} compact(.)org.