North Carolina Central University (NCCU) is participating in the pilot NC Student Dialogue Ambassadors program, developed by North Carolina Campus Engagement (NCCE), a collaborative network of 39 colleges and universities committed to strengthening democracy.
Launched in fall 2022, the program seeks to mobilize a trained cohort of student leaders who are passionate about dialogue and civil discourse. The ambassadors will facilitate four-to-five dialogues on their campus during the 2023 spring semester. These dialogues will help students practice and build the skills to engage in the open exchange of ideas with people who think differently and to find common ground for action on the major public challenges we face as a state and nation.
For NCCU student ambassador JaKarrie Miller, a political science major, the program is an exciting opportunity for her to serve her community.
“I applied to be an ambassador in order to bridge and facilitate conversations across campus and in the community in an effort to find potential solutions to issues that will help improve opportunities for others.”
Ambassadors receive a stipend and are trained in four formal dialogue methods, National Issues Forum deliberative dialogue; Civil Dialogue, developed by Arizona State University; Braver Discussions, developed by the Braver Angels Alliance of Central North Carolina; and Living Room Conversations. Additionally, each participating campus receives an activity fund for ongoing support to plan and host the dialogues
“This is an excellent opportunity to build safe spaces for dialogue and understanding for students in concert with an intergenerational community perspective,” said Calleen Herbert, NCCU director of community engagement and service and NC Student Dialogue Ambassadors program mentor.
Joining NCCU in the pilot program are Alamance Community College, Elon University and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
“We live in a time of increasing polarization and division,” said Leslie Garvin, NCCE Executive Director. “At the same time, there are major challenges threatening to dismantle our communities and world. More than ever we need young leaders with the ability to build bridges and to deliberate together to develop solutions and take action.”
As part of their NC Collegiate Civics Project, NCCE received a two-year grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation to launch the Dialogue Ambassadors program.