Widener is proud to be a leading university in the pursuit of common ground – a foundation for learning, citizenship, and success. As our interconnected world changes rapidly, embracing diverse perspectives is more important than ever to advance the common good.
We create opportunities for students to discuss differences in open and respectful ways, preparing them for personal success and to become active participants in a thriving democracy. The Common Ground Initiative engages students in challenging yet civil conversations that teach them to:
Lead with integrity
Listen actively and openly
Have the courage to voice their beliefs
Respect different perspectives and opinions
Seek to understand before reacting
Honoring Diversity and Inclusion
For us, “We’re All Widener” is more than a statement. It is a powerful call for respect, mutual understanding, and unity. Our history of respectful listening and a dedication to courageous leadership and civic engagement make us unique. At Widener, students can feel comfortable sharing their different thoughts and experiences in an effort to find common ground.
Common Ground In Action
Widener students are tomorrow’s leaders and innovators whose success relies on their ability to find common ground. Our faculty challenge students on an ongoing basis to have civil conversations that help them learn from and appreciate diverse perspectives.
In addition to coursework, students can also work at finding common ground by:
Participating in the active political engagement group
Joining multicultural campus organizations
Watching political debates and attending group discussions
Leading panels and breakout sessions at events on and around campus
Attending on-campus diversity and inclusion events
Joining small-group discussions on common ground led by the university president
Common Ground Events
Widener’s Common Ground Initiative kicked off in fall 2017 at the National Constitution Center with “The First Amendment: Finding Common Ground in a Polarized World.” Students, faculty, and staff gathered for a thoughtful panel discussion with President Julie Wollman, Delaware Law School Dean Rodney Smolla and National Constitution Center President and CEO Jeffrey Rosen.
Dr. Wollman shared Widener's Common Ground Initiative with leading innovators and educators from around the world at the 2018 South by Southwest Education Conference and Festival (SXSW EDU) in Austin, Texas. She and Jeffrey Rosen presented the featured session “Free Speech and Civil Dialogue Online and On Campus.” Dr. Wollman returned to Austin for the 2019 SXSW EDU Conference, and presented "Free Speech Workshop: The Search for Common Ground" with Dean Smolla.
Common Ground Initiative launches at National Constitution Center
Highlights from Widener’s November, 2017 event at the National Constitution Center where a panel discussion was followed by student-led conversations that allowed participants to share their thoughts through an innovative approach that emphasized understanding, empathy, and advocacy – all through a framework of civility.
Widener President Julie Wollman, Delaware Law School Dean Rodney Smolla, and National Constitution Center President and CEO Jeffrey Rosen lead a thoughtful discussion exploring the intersection of free speech and civil discourse in modern America.
Common Ground Event Photos
Widener's Common Ground Initiative is a national model for colleges and universities to engage students, faculty, and staff in civil dialogue the teaches them to listen and bring together people with different perspectives.