Can We Talk? gives Penn students a chance to discuss the public issues most on their minds with other college students from campuses around the Philadelphia region and beyond. In February, topics up for discussion will include the vaccine rollout, the events at the Nations capitol on January 6, and the prospects for racial justice.
Any student enrolled at ay college or university in North America is invited to participate. Advance registration is required. Students can win prizes for inviting friends, filling out a survey.
These dialogues are held on Zoom, carefully structured and led by experienced moderators using set ground rules and prompts that tie into current events. This helps foster what one student called “the best political discussion I have ever been part of.”
Most of the discussion occurs in breakout groups of 5 to 7 students, creating an atmosphere where students feel free to be honest and go deep into issues. They leave with tips and guidelines on active listening and civil discourse that they can put to use on campus, online, with family and at work. They become better equipped to take small, productive steps to address America’s deep divisions.
RBX held six such forums in 2020, one in person on the Penn campus before the pandemic, five on Zoom later in the year. More than 150 students from 20 colleges and universities took part.
Here’s some of what those students told us about how they enjoyed the sessions and the useful tips they gained:
I absolutely loved it. The best political discussion I have ever taken part in.
A unique experience that I’m glad that I had.
Extremely beneficial. Regardless of what political view anyone had, every student had an opportunity to say what they felt. I am super grateful that I was part of the conversation.
I learned the benefit of active listening.
The Red and Blue Exchange is an initiative of the SNF Paideia Program at the University of Pennsylvania. RBX’s mission is to teach and promote civil dialogue and embrace viewpoint diversity.