Resources for Students

Where can students talk across differences?

Middlebury students regularly gather in class, over meals, or with friends.  All of these spaces provide opportunities to practice listening and deliberation, but we tend to hang out with like-minded people.  If you are looking for a place to talk students of different views and backgrounds, here are some examples of student-led initiatives:

  • Faculty Student Staff Tables was a Spring 2019 effort to convene small groups of community members over a meal.  go/fsstf
  • Midd Discourse is a student organization that seeks to facilitate free and open discussions among Middlebury students.  Every week, participants decided on a topic together and met for an hour to exchange ideas (with snacks!).

Please reach out if you’d like to advertise your own efforts or start your own discussion group: ListeningMidd@gmail.com

What are some models for doing this myself?

There are some great, easy-to-use models, including the World Cafe model, the civil conversations project, restorative justice circles, and reflective structured dialogue.

At Middlebury, the “Listen/Learn project”  ran six deliberation cafes for students in 2017-18.  Examples of our topics:

  • For seniors, “How will you describe Middlebury after you have left this place?”
  • “How does social media shape your community?”
  • “Should we tolerate the intolerant?”
  • “How do religious and spiritual activities shape the Middlebury College community?”
  • We also partnered with the provost’s Committee for Speech and Inclusion and discussed a half-dozen questions around protest, speech, inclusion, race, and open inquiry.

If you’d like to read lesson learned from the deliberation cafes, see the contribution to this online journal hosted by Brown University’s Swearer Center.

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