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Providence College to address polarization with Civil Discourse campus-wide and in community

Providence College has been awarded a $250,000 grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations to support Conversations for Change, a new campus-wide initiative that will promote civil discourse across campus and in the local community. 

Dr. Nicholas Longo, professor of Global Studies, and Dr. Quincy Bevely, assistant vice president for Institutional Diversity, will lead the project. 

Conversations for Change is designed to foster skills for active citizenship by strategically embedding dialogue and deliberation in courses and student life and offering professional development on facilitating dialogue related to disputed questions for faculty, staff, and student leaders. 

“Very few people have deeper connections to civic engagement than Dr. Bevely and Dr. Longo,” said Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost Sean Reid. “For years, they have encouraged students to be more engaged in the world and to reach across real and perceived divides. With this funding, these highly accomplished teachers and practitioners will offer even more opportunities for members of the Providence College community – most importantly PC students – to develop the skills needed to make positive societal contributions. I am grateful for the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations’ investment in this work.”

“Our country is becoming more and more polarized with divisions being built that seem insurmountable,” said Dr. Longo. “Young people are our best hope to address the challenges we face, and that’s why the Dialogue, Inclusion, and Democracy Lab is so committed to educating the next generation to be engaged, democratic citizens. With Conversations for Change, we plan to create spaces for students to talk across differences, learn from one another, and then take action on the really difficult and complex issues affecting our world.”

“We are excited to embark on this civically purposeful work at Providence College,” said Dr. Bevely. “Like many other colleges, Providence College reflects the polarization of the broader society. With this support from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, we will engage our community in conversations around contentious topics. 

Conversations for Change will provide students with abundant opportunities and diverse resources to foster healthy dialogue that evokes empathy, listening, understanding, and active citizenship. Every facet of our work is designed to create positive social change by educating our next generation of leaders, students, in civil discourse that addresses intricate issues influencing society.”

Conversations for Change looks to educate the next generation of leaders who will make meaningful contributions, address public challenges, and promote the common good.

About the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations: The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations were organized in 1952 and are supported by two trusts established by Mr. Arthur Vining Davis. The Foundation’s aim to bear witness to Mr. Davis’ successful corporate leadership and his ambitious philanthropic vision. Since their inception, the Foundations have given over 3,800 grants totaling more than $300 million to colleges and universities, hospitals, medical schools, and divinity schools. For more information: Arthur Vining Davis Foundations.

About Providence College:

Founded in 1917, Providence College is the only college or university in the United States administered by the Dominican Friars and has an undergraduate enrollment of approximately 4,100 students.  Providence College has ranked first among regional colleges and universities in the North for the last three years according to U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Colleges.” 

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