common ground

Common Ground

Widener is proud to be a leading university in the pursuit of common ground – a foundation for learning, citizenship, and success.

students stand in front of Widener University archway

Honoring Diversity & 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. Learn more about diversity and inclusion at Widener.

Students international discussion

Common Ground Conversations Series

President Julie Wollman and Chief Diversity Officer Michelle Meekins-Davis personally facilitate Common Ground Conversations, a series of small-group discussions held throughout the academic year. These one-hour sessions serve to engage the Widener community in challenging conversations that explore differences in open and respectful ways. 
Participants share their thoughts about current experiences and issues related to common ground on campus and beyond while listening and learning from the diverse perspectives of others. These informal and free-flowing discussions help prepare students, faculty, and staff to be active participants in a thriving democracy who address challenges by finding common ground. 

    Discussion topics have included:

    • How the Widener community can address disparities revealed during the COVID-19 pandemic as we resume our post-pandemic lives;
    • Recognizing situations in which members of our community may feel like outsiders in groups or settings;
    • Sharing reflections of how participants have felt marginalized because of their beliefs;
    • And how the Widener community might bridge divides in our classrooms, workspaces, and communities.

    Featured Past Events

    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.

    The First Amendment: Finding Common Ground in a Polarized World

    Widener’s Common Ground Initiative kicked off in fall 2017 at the National Constitution Center. 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.

    Other highlights from the event include 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.

    SXSW EDU Conferences

    Dr. Wollman presented at the 2018 and 2019 South by Southwest Education Conference and Festival (SXSW EDU) in Austin, Texas, sharing Widener's Common Ground Initiative with leading innovators and educators from around the world. At the 2018 conference, 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.