At the end of September, the Project for Emerging Dialogues hosted its first event, “A Discussion on the Racialization of Political Movements: #BlackLivesMatter / #AllLivesMatter.” Since then, the student organization has hosted watch parties and discussions featuring the 2020 vice-presidential and presidential debates.

As these events might suggest, Emerging Dialogues is not about shying away from politics, especially during a highly fraught year in which tensions are running high over the pandemic, police brutality and other forms of systemic racism, the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, and, of course, the federal election. But the group is committed to facilitating peaceful, honest, in-depth conversations about difficult topics. Their goal is not to have one side convince the other to agree, especially considering how rarely there are only two sides to any argument. Rather, each dialogue is an opportunity for students to learn how individuals from diverse backgrounds think differently about significant issues, thereby opening minds and broadening perspectives.

Recently, President Laura E. Skandera Trombley sat down with Emerging Dialogues leaders Alex Bell ’21 and Shay Salunkhe ’22. They discuss why it’s important for undergraduates to share their opinions openly, how an in-person or virtual discussion improves on sharing comments on social media, and why the students changed the group’s name from the Project for Free Speech and Civil Discourse earlier this year.