Project Citizen holds “Citizen Supper” for New First Years
“Grab a blanket, grab a basket!” rang out across the East Campus quad last Thursday as upperclass students prepared for an epic picnic for the Class of 2023. The Kenan Institute for Ethics and the Office of New Student Programs hosted the first of a series of Citizen Suppers with a dinner for almost 2000 first year students and Freshmen Advisory Counselors (FACs) during Orientation Week. Over chicken salad sandwiches and vegan veggie wraps, the FACs introduced their “FAClets” to intellectual life in and outside of the classroom at Duke through a deliberative dialogue about the summer reading, Tommy Orange’s There There. The discussion modeled a way to have civil discourse through deep listening, asking clarifying questions, and seeking a common ground of understanding and respect, regardless of identity or political leanings. Ada Gregory, Associate Director of KIE, noted, “By focusing this initiative on the first-year experience, students will be positioned earlier to build the skills to dialogue, organize, advocate and build coalitions for action on the things they care about most.”
This effort is part of Project Citizen at the Kenan Institute for Ethics, which seeks to promote democratic awareness and participation in civil society and in the polity through civil discourse and action. First-year students will be invited to attend a series of public Citizen Suppers in the Durham community this fall and spring. KIE will partner with community organizations and local government officials to bring together students, residents, community activists and local leadership to discuss pressing issues in Durham with the aim of moving toward mutual understanding and collective action for the public good. This initiative is made possible by a grant through the Working Across Differences Fund sponsored by Ashoka U and the Changemaker Campus Network Advisory Committee (NAC), in partnership with the Fetzer Institute.
If you would like to hear more about There There, come to KIE’s Ethics of Now conversation with Tommy Orange on Friday, August 30th, at 7pm at the Durham Arts Council.