Hamilton alumnus and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack ’72 and Rep. G.T. Thompson, chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, will kick off Hamilton’s 2023-24 Common Ground series with a discussion about bipartisanship, agriculture, and climate. The event will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 5, at 7 p.m., in Wellin Hall. Edvige Jean-François ’90, an award-winning journalist and executive director of the Center for Studies on Africa and Its Diaspora at Georgia State University, will moderate.
Common Ground

Designed to explore cross-boundary political thought and complex social issues, Common Ground brings highly respected thought leaders to the Hamilton campus multiple times a year to participate in small classroom dialogues and large event discussions.

More about Common Ground

Common Ground is Hamilton’s widely acclaimed multi-format program that launched in 2017 and helps prepare students for lives of active citizenship. Topics intertwined with the College’s curriculum are chosen to foster critical thinking and holistic examination of difficult and often contentious national and global policy issues.

“Common Ground not only sets the example for how respectful dialogue can happen on a college campus; it gives tomorrow’s leaders the tools to model that behavior in the broader society they will inherit,” said Common Ground’s executive director Ty Seidule, a retired U.S. Army brigadier general and visiting professor of history at Hamilton.

The majority of this year’s Common Ground events will focus on climate change. The series will feature events that delve into various subtopics within that area, specifically focusing on issues related to food/agriculture and issues related to energy transitions.

Hamilton recently partnered with The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC), a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., to connect Common Ground and BPC’s University Partnership Program, which is aimed at encouraging civil discourse and bringing bipartisanship outside the beltway through robust intellectual exchange. Hamilton is the first liberal arts college to partner with BPC.

Alumni and parents can register to attend the event virtually.

Upcoming Common Ground Events

Common Ground October 2023 speakers“Common Ground: The Supreme Court’s Decision in 303 Creative v. Elenis - The Collision Between Free Speech and LGBTQ+ Rights” 

Wednesday, Oct. 18, at 7:30 p.m.
Fillius Events Barn

Featuring Eric Olson, former solicitor general of Colorado; Hila Keren, associate dean for research and professor at Southwestern Law School; and Dale Carpenter, professor at Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law. Moderating will be Michael Grygiel ’79, P’23, co-chair of Greenberg Traurig, LLP’s national media and entertainment litigation group.

Common Ground November 2023“Common Ground: The Pathway to the Energy Transition”

Monday, Nov. 6, at 7:30 p.m.

Featuring Christine Todd Whitman, former governor of New Jersey, and Gina McCarthy, former administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Aaron Strong will moderate.

Additional Common Ground events will be announced throughout the year. All are free and open to the public.

The College thanks Mary Helen and Robert Morris ’76, P’16,’17; Eve Niquette and Charles Pohl, P’20,’25; and Lori and David Hess ’77 for their generous support of Common Ground.

Related News

Common Ground and Bipartisan Policy Center partnership announcement

Bipartisan Policy Center Partners with Hamilton

This collaboration will connect Hamilton’s Common Ground program and Bipartisan Policy Center’s (BPC) University Partnership Program to encourage civil discourse and bring bipartisanship outside the beltway through robust intellectual exchange. Hamilton is the first liberal arts college to partner with BPC.

David Brody, Professor of Government Robert Martin, and Shoshana Weissmann

What Does Freedom Mean in Online Speech? Experts Debate

As algorithms and online platforms come to define our daily lives, how do we navigate the social responsibilities of platforms and our own online freedoms?  These were questions addressed at the Common Ground panel on March 27. Guest speakers were Shoshana Weissmann, the digital director of the think tank R Street, and David Brody, the managing attorney of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law’s Digital Justice Initiative. Professor of Government Robert Martin moderated the conversation.

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