The University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media will welcome the Better Angels to campus March 2 and 3 in an effort to unite in a time of political division.
Better Angels is a citizens’ organization uniting red and blue Americans in a working alliance to depolarize America. They will be in Oxford Monday, March 2 and Tuesday, March 3 to host two events.
The March 2 event will be a Better Angels Debate from 5:30-7:30 p.m. in the Union Auditorium. Those who attend will discuss the university’s Confederate imagery and symbolism.
“The crux is that a group of people will think together, listen carefully to one another, and allow themselves to be touched and perhaps changed by each other’s ideas,” said UM School of Journalism and New Media professor Graham Bodie, Ph.D. “When done well, everyone walks out a little closer to the truth, more aware of the validity in opposing views, and with tighter community relationships.
After a participant speaks, the chair will ask for one or two questions from the body, Bodie said.
All questions will be addressed to the chair, limiting the feeling that opinions are being “challenged” and encouraging nuance and thoughtful discussion.
All speakers are encouraged to bring up new ideas as they wish, to place them in context of the prior speeches, and to directly express responses to prior speeches, Bodie said.
The March 3 event will be a Better Angels Red-Blue Workshop from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Depot. The workshop is focused on university faculty and community members.
“The crux is that 6-7 self-identified ‘Reds’ and 6-7 self-identified ‘Blues’ come together for structured conversations that aim for us all to better understand the ‘other side’ (experiences and perspectives of people with whom we likely disagree),” Bodie said.
People who do not identify with one or the other are invited to be independent observers.
Bodie said Better Angels will illustrate the power and potential of listening first to understand, to demonstrate to students, faculty, and community members that perceived difference (based on ideology, political affiliation, or perspective) is not always as vast as the things we have in common.
“If we can respect the humanity of all people, focusing not on position but on what unites us, we can work together for positive change in our community,” Bodie said.
Students who are interested in participating on March 2, should email Bodie at firstname.lastname@example.org