Do you remember that time in college when a professor or classmate knew just what to say and it made all the difference? Or the time that a classmate shared about growing up Muslim in the U.S. and it caused you to reflect on your own religious upbringing? Or the time you went to your professor’s office hours because the course material challenged your personal beliefs, and the professor took the time to engage you in a respectful, enriching dialogue?
For many of us, our most impactful explorations of difference happen organically in relationship with others, and there is no better nor more opportune time for building and exploring these types of relationships than college. Furthermore, mounting research demonstrates the transformative potential and the lasting effect of relationship-rich college experiences. Put simply, intentionally cultivating robust student relationships – with each other, with faculty, with staff – is essential to promoting a campus culture that centers and positively engages diversity. Too often, however, our institutions treat the purposeful fostering of student relationships as prohibitively time-intensive or a “nice to have,” but not essential.
In this interactive charrette, Drs. Peter Felten (Elon University), Leo Lambert (Elon University), and Marion Larson (Bethel University) will invite participants to share and reflect on their own personal stories of (collegiate) relationships that have shaped how they engage difference. Drawing from this collective experience, the conversation will transition to co-imagining how to build campus structures – policies, events, programs – that deliberately seed and nurture relational networks that transcend deep difference.