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Article by Crystal Nielsen | Photo by Evan Krape
Learning to navigate the choppy waters of American political discourse can be a challenge for anyone, particularly for college students. With a 24-hour news cycle and increasingly polarized public commentary on almost any topic, it can feel as though there is no room for discussion and nuance.
Despite the divisiveness of the monumental challenges facing our nation, the college campus offers students a potential venue for the free exchange of ideas and the formation of creative solutions to address the issues. In order to move forward as a nation, it is critical that this generation be empowered with the skills to engage in civil political discourse and work together on public policy challenges.
The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Ithaca Initiative at the University of Delaware's Joseph R. Biden, Jr. School of Public Policy and Administration is a new program to help college students on their journey toward impactful civil discourse and civic engagement. Through a combination of academic coursework, hands-on experiences, and special events with students from all parts of the country, UD students will have opportunities to advance the national civil discourse and civic engagement.
SNF Ithaca Initiative programming is set to begin in the fall 2021 semester. Currently led by SNF Faculty Director Philip Barnes, the upcoming academic programming will include:
The SNF Ithaca Student Leaders program will also see its first cohort in the fall semester. These students will apply their study of civil discourse and civic engagement to their broader engagement on the UD campus and in the wider community.
The academic anchor of the SNF Ithaca Initiative is a new named professorship within the Biden School: the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Professor. This new opening accepted application from academic leaders in civil discourse and civic engagement, and interviews are commencing (in September 2021). The SNF Professor will have a professional appointment in the Biden Institute, where that individual will collaborate on planning experiential learning opportunities for students.
Ithaca is home to Odysseus—one of Greek mythology’s greatest leaders, whose talent for persuasive discourse was revered in ancient Greek democracy. For Odysseus, Ithaca represents not only the beginning of his journey but also his ultimate destination. The SNF Ithaca Initiative will serve as the beginning of UD students’ journey toward becoming engaged, effective citizens, as well as the ultimate destination for students to come together, reach across divides and collaborate on important domestic policy solutions.
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