In an effort to bring together William & Mary and the Williamsburg community, the Office of Community Engagement (OCE) hosts Community Discussions and Dinner Dialogues regularly every semester.
Community Discussions lead conversations about important issues in community engagement and positive social change. Each discussion is facilitated by April Urbanowski, the Fellow for Local Engagement, and features a guest speaker with experience on the discussion topic.
Last fall, Community Discussions tackled the issues of poverty, adult education, and food systems in our community. This spring, discussions have included ‘Balancing Life, Work, and Active Citizenship,’ ‘Environmental Preservation’ and ‘Engaging with the Aging Community.’
Next up is ‘Gender in the Nonprofit Sector,’ an evening dedicated to discussing the lack of gender diversity in volunteer work. These discussions are informal, engaging, and open to all!
The OCE also hosts Dinner Dialogues each semester to give participants a chance to listen and engage with each other about community importance while practicing controversy with civility. Previous dinner topics have included the effects of media, community safety, and health on college campuses. Although these dinners are also led by April, they are purposefully small and diverse.
The dinners are adapted from Conversation Café, a discussion model based on open-mindedness, acceptance, curiosity, discovery, sincerity, and brevity. They are structured with two round robins, an open dialogue, and closing statements so that each member gets a chance to speak in each stage. Each dinner is comprised of 2-3 students, 2-3 faculty, and 2-3 community members and lasts for 60-90 minutes.
Today, being engaged in and aware of the issues that impact your community is more important than ever before. The OCE invites all students and staff to join us for the next Community Discussion (date TBA) or email April Urbanowski, firstname.lastname@example.org, to participate in the next Dinner Dialogue.
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