In support of Governor Youngkin’s request that all new students receive training in freedom of expression and free speech, and building on JMU’s mission as an engaged university, students will participate in a multi-part program designed for building and flexing civic dialogue muscles. The Better Conversations Together program will help students understand their own views and values, as well as actively listening and productively talking with others across divides. The end result of this program is students moving from understanding themselves and their roles in free speech and difficult conversations to being able to find common ground for solving wicked problems.

Prior to arriving on campus, all students will participate in the first two modules in the Constructive Dialogue Institute’s Perspectives e-learning program which explores “the inner working of our minds,” including how brains process information and how people form values and beliefs. On campus as an extension of their civic learning, students will participate in a small group facilitated deliberative dialogue using nonpartisan, pre-framed material from the National Issues Forums Institute.

The small group deliberative dialogues will be facilitated by the Madison Center's Facilitation Fellows, a group of trained undergraduates with experience in helping others have difficult conversations across divides.

For more information on this program, contact the Madison Center.

Preview the Perspectives orientation program.

Preview a sampling of possible issue guides

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