With a background in high school debate, Oliver is no stranger to heated conversations on controversial topics. He believes that regardless of how deep disagreements are, it is important to remain civil so that those with opposing views can have constructive and productive dialogue. Oliver is curious about the history of communication technology and how social media, instant messaging, and internet-based news came to be promoted as the golden age of communication for the 21st century. Yet, with the proliferation of echo chambers, selection bias, and ill-conceived misinformation campaigns, these technologies are far from a panacea for civil and constructive dialogue and instead have contributed to polarization. Oliver hopes to use his experience in the SNF Paideia Program to persuade peers at Penn and beyond that civil discourse and dialogue across divides can lead to a less-polarized society.
As a Political Science and History major, Oliver is keenly interested in issues related to free speech and democracy. Through the opportunities afforded him as a SNF Paideia Fellow, Oliver aspires to investigate the international history of free speech movements and how the recent rise in polarization, both in America as well as other countries, has not been met with an equal call for open discourse. Oliver is a member of the Student Committee on Undergraduate Education as well as the University Honor Council. He takes pride in working with these student organizations and will apply his skills in helping facilitate dialogue for students on topics related to the issues affecting the student body.