WOOSTER, Ohio – The College of Wooster has been awarded a $5,000 grant to support a project aimed at building bridges between students and residents of the City of Wooster. It is one of 40 such grants made to colleges and universities by Campus Compact, a Boston-based non-profit organization working to advance the public purposes of higher education, from its Fund for Positive Engagement.
The project is called “Bridging Along Beall Avenue: Living Room Conversations to Connect Campus and Community.” Between January and March 2018, five groups, each composed of three College of Wooster students and three community members, will meet twice for a meal and guided discussion on a political topic, once at an off-campus participant’s home, once in a campus residential space. All 30 participants also will work side-by-side on a daylong service project arranged through United Way, create ways to share their experiences with the broader campus and Wooster communities, and come together for a concluding celebration.
The goal, as described in the project proposal, is straightforward: “Civil conversation that broaches important political issues, framed around finding common ground and identifying each other’s values, can break down stereotypes of ‘others’ and build common understanding… It is far harder to dismiss particular ideas and cling to stereotypes if you have gotten to know someone who embraces those ideas or violates those stereotypes.”
The selection process for the grants was highly competitive, with Campus Compact receiving nearly 300 proposals from across the country. Proposals were evaluated based on a number of criteria, including the strength of the idea, its practicality, and the degree to which it will be possible to measure its success.