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Common Ground Kicks Off at the National Constitution Center


Finding Common Ground

Watch the highlight video of Widener's Common Ground event at the National Constitution Center.

Widener University launched the Common Ground Initiative on November 14, 2017 in partnership with the National Constitution Center. The two-part event began with the panel discussion: "The First Amendment: Finding Common Ground in a Polarized World."

The program encouraged thoughtful discussion and a commitment to mutual understanding, unity, and respect.

Attendees spanned all facets of the Widener community and included faculty, staff, trustees, students, and alumni from the main campus in Chester and both law schools.

Students Start the Conversation

Student volunteers, trained by Widener faculty facilitated discussions on difficult topics, emphasizing understanding and empathy and combating an "us vs. them" or a "win vs. lose" approach to political discussions. The experience allowed participants to share their thoughts through an innovative approach that emphasized understanding, empathy, and advocacy – all through a framework of civility.

Panel Discussion

Dr. Wollman joined Delaware Law School Dean Rodney Smolla for a talk moderated by National Constitution Center President and CEO Jeffrey Rosen.

Dr. WollmanWidener President Dr. Julie E. Wollman

Wollman discussed her role as a university president who is intent on honoring all voices and finding common ground, at a time when polarization has affected multiple colleges and universities nationally.



Dean SmollaDelaware Law School Dean Rodney Smolla

Smolla explored the free speech implications of the First Amendment, and the differences between what is illegal versus what is distasteful public speech. He is a nationally known First Amendment scholar and lawyer. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe recently appointed him to the task force charged with evaluating circumstances that led to the violent white supremacist events this August in Charlottesville.


Jeffrey RosenNational Constitution Center President and CEO Jeffrey Rosen

Rosen served as moderator for the panel discussion. In addition to his duties at the National Constitution Center, Rosen is a professor at George Washington University Law School, and a contributing editor for The Atlantic. He is a highly regarded journalist who was called "the nation's most widely read and influential legal commentator," by a Los Angeles Times reviewer.


Watch the full panel discussion: