Civic Engagement Council
Elon University is a national leader in Civic Engagement, serving as one of the model campuses for the Carnegie Classification on Civic Engagement and is recognized as one of the nation’s top universities for community service by earning a Presidential Award in the first President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.
Elon Votes! is a nonpartisan campus initiative created to provide students with the necessary resources to register to vote and learn about issues at stake in upcoming elections.
At Elon we recognize that building community and developing the skills to thoughtfully and critically engage within and across difference is easier with practice. We also recognize that ways of engaging in meaningful and productive dialogue takes different forms for different people. For this reason, there are many dialogue initiatives that take place at Elon that each have their own structure, focus, and time commitment. The below initiatives highlight specific opportunities for dialogue on campus:
Active Citizen Series
The Active Citizen Series, sponsored by the Kernodle Center, Elon Votes, and the Council for Civic Engagement, is crafted to allow students to gain a deeper understanding of how government works and to develop the necessary skills to engage in civil discourse across political divides. Multiple events are held each semester which foster dialogue and bring dynamic speakers to campus.
Each semester students, faculty, staff, and local community members will be carefully selected to discuss a chosen topic in an open, educational, and respectful forum to benefit Elon University and the wider community. A moderator will open the evening and facilitate the conversation and after opening remarks panelists share their viewpoint on the given topic. During the program the audience will be encouraged to ask into a microphone or write any questions they would like to have addressed to continue the conversation. Community Connections is a partnership event between the Council of Civic Engagement and the Burlington Times News.
The Kernodle Center for Civic Life and Council on Civic Engagement host a campus Deliberative Dialogue on a different topic each semester. A Deliberative Dialogue is an opportunity for students, faculty, staff, and community members to gather and discuss a public policy issue. These dialogues offer citizens the opportunity to join together to deliberate, to make choices with others about ways to approach difficult issues, and to work toward creating reasoned public judgment. Topics can involve issues such as health care, immigration, Social Security, or ethnic and racial tensions. Deliberative Dialogues provide a way for people of diverse views and experiences to seek a shared understanding of the issue and to search for common ground for action. This model has been established by the National Issues Forum, a nonpartisan, nationwide network of locally sponsored public forums for the consideration of public policy issues.
Just in Time Panels
Just in time panels are pop-up dialogue events in response to current events. These events are organized to offer space for the campus to process and converse about events shortly after they occur.
The Human Library Project, hosted during January-term, is designed to create understanding and dialogue across people. Individuals volunteer as “Human Books” and attendees “check out the book,” through one-on-one conversations with the Human Books and shared experiences. Human Book volunteers represent diverse walks of life and identities across race, religion, family background, sexual orientation, gender, profession, hobbies, class, disability, skill set, and additional aspects of what it means to be human. Elon students, faculty, and staff are welcome.
Intercultural Consciousness Certificate
An integral aspect of the Faculty and Staff Intercultural Consciousness Certificate out of the Office of Inclusive Community Well-Being is the fall dialogue process with fellow cohort members. For more information about the certificate and its dialogue component visit the Certificate page.
Throughout the year, the Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life organizes dialogue opportunities related to meaning, purpose, faith, spirituality, religious diversity, and multi-faith topics. Every January-term a dialogue series called wInterfaith is organized to learn about different faith traditions or discuss the inter-sectional between religious and spiritual traditions and social justice.
InterGroup Relations is a distinct type of course that is being offered through the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. These two-credit courses are interdisciplinary, co-facilitated by a faculty and staff member, and dialogue based. Courses using the InterGroup Relations model are intentionally designed to provide a structured experience for students to explore social group identity, conflict, community, and social justice. While the themes and topics of these courses will highlight particular, historically situated identities, the facilitators recognize the importance of how different aspects of identity shape, influence, and intertwine with other aspects of identity; that is, these courses are designed with an intersectional approach.
As InterGroup Relations courses are dialogue based, their success depends on active student engagement. These courses ask students to be open and honest about sharing their experiences and perspectives, while also listening to the experiences and perspectives of others.
News from the Summer
News from the summer is held the second day of the fall semester and provides an opportunity for the campus community to catch up on and discuss important current events that happened during the summer months.
Race-nicity Lunch Series
Several times throughout the year, the CREDE hosts events for faculty and staff to come together and discuss a particular book or article over lunch. This is an opportunity for the campus community to engage in open dialogue about race and ethnicity.
Soup and Society
Soup & Society is an event series designed to give space for productive peer-to-peer dialogue about societal topics and issues. During the events, there is an overall theme to the conversations, and there will be prompts or questions on the walls throughout the kitchens to help start and continue the conversation. This is not meant to be an event where you all sit in a circle and are asked questions by a facilitator. This meant to be a space for genuine, organic, and thought provoking conversations to exist and peer-to-peer learning to flourish over something that makes almost everyone happy in the winter time…soup! Soup and Society is organized by the East Residential Neighborhood.
Summer Race Conversations
Since the June 2015 fatal shootings of nine black people by a white man at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC, the CREDE staff has facilitated faculty and staff discussions on race and racism in our communities. These discussions are held several times during the month of July during an extended lunch and learn professional development opportunity co-sponsored by the Office of Leadership and Professional Development. Participants engage in discussions about race-related prompts, questions, and videos that create a shared basis for exploring this socially constructed concept.
Sustained Dialogue, available each semester for staff and faculty members, focuses on a specific topic for 10 weeks at a time and is facilitated by trained staff or faculty members. Sustained Dialogue is a unique change process which focuses on transforming relationships that cause problems, create conflict, and block change; and emphasizes the importance of effective change over time. Since transforming relationships requires an ongoing effort, Sustained Dialogue gradually develops over a five-stage process. This multistage approach serves as a guidepost for programs and for those in conflict to create sustainable change in their relationships and communities.