Notes to the Hamilton Community
September 3, 2019
Dear Members of the Hamilton Community,
Several years ago, we launched Common Ground, a program that brings together speakers with differing viewpoints, each willing to model respectful dialogue. I am pleased to announce that beginning this fall, with a donor’s generous financial support, we will supplement that series with a new pilot program called “Common Ground on the Ground.”
The goal for the new program is to stimulate discussion of pressing social issues across a wide range of subject areas, including economics, history, literature, the arts, philosophy, law, and politics.
Examples of the kind of programs that might attract funding include: a program that trains peer leaders to facilitate dialogue between students with different viewpoints; hosting pairs of visiting jurists, diplomats, journalists, and others for mini-courses and workshops; creating new student-led publications, podcasts, online broadcasts, or video content that present varying perspectives; offering programs jointly sponsored by students who represent different religious traditions; and creating new or redesigned courses and seminars that encourage open dialogue about polarizing issues, with guest speakers, simulations, and paired readings.
Students, faculty, and staff with ideas for fostering cross-boundary learning may apply for funding by submitting proposals to Gill King in the President’s Office. The proposals will be reviewed by a committee appointed by the president using the following criteria:
- Potential to generate meaningful experiences with enduring impact
- Relevance and significance of issues involved
- Balance and inclusion of different viewpoints in the same forum
- Number of students involved
- Sustainability or scalability, with consideration for life beyond the pilot program
The committee will make recommendations to the President’s Office, which will provide financial support for selected proposals. In addition, College-initiated programming that supports Common Ground themes (e.g., using the new Residential Curriculum to deliver Common Ground programming and content) may receive financial support as part of this initiative. For the long term, we hope to establish an endowment as part of the Because Hamilton campaign to fund Common Ground on the Ground.