This spring’s Daily Work of Justice conversation at William & Mary will continue the university’s championing of democracy.
The discussion will take place March 2 at 6:30 p.m. in the Tidewater A room at the Sadler Center. Participants are asked to register in advance as space is limited.
The conversations offer an opportunity for people to share their stories with small groups of W&M and local community members. Developed by a committee from across the university and led by the Office of Community Engagement, the series aims to explore issues by having people share their lived experiences “as a way of providing space for others to engage with empathy, understanding and action,” according to its website. Past topics have been climate change and water, the criminal justice system, addiction and substance abuse, and ability and disability.
W&M highlights democracy as one of the cornerstone initiatives of its Vision 2026 strategic plan and established its Democracy Initiative to promote a shared sense of purpose in preserving American democracy.
“The W&M Democracy Initiative was founded in spring of 2021, growing out of an understanding that firstly, the nation and the world are approaching a critical junction in terms of the growth cycle of democracy,” said Dean of University Libraries Carrie Cooper, who co-chairs the initiative with Vice President of Student Affairs Ginger Ambler.
“Secondly, the university occupies a unique position — historically, geographically and intellectually — in that growth cycle. We have strengths and connections that we can call on to help our students and communities foster and bolster democratic engagement.”
Daily Work of Justice participants will engage in facilitated small group conversation with those who practice and sustain democracy in their public and private lives as journalists, elected officials, advocates, neighbors, immigrants, voters, family members and business members, among others.
“What I love about the Daily Work of Justice conversations is it brings us back to the personal,” Elizabeth Miller, associate director of the Office of Community Engagement, has said about the ongoing series.
Guided by the framework of Parker Palmer’s “Healing the Heart of Democracy: The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the HumanSpirit,” featured guests will bring their varied perspectives and discuss with participants topics such as their deepest hopes for the United States, how they have moved from distrust to trust with someone with whom they share differing convictions, the role of “We the People” in this moment, what citizens are called to do and how Americans can heal the heart of democracy.
Featured guests from the William & Mary community will include Assistant Professor of Sociology and Integrative Conservation Fernando Galeana-Rodriguez, Lecturer of Anthropology Joseph Jones and Center for Geospatial Analysis GIS Certificate Coordinator Shannon White.
Community members will be provided with resources to learn more and act on the issues discussed. After brief opening remarks, each table will engage in facilitated small group discussion with the guest speakers at their tables, with an emphasis on empathetic listening and understanding.
“Democracy has been such a fitting theme for this year’s series because as excited as we are about the range of amazing featured guests joining, the power of these conversations comes from all people sharing their experiences and listening to one another with curiosity, empathy and care,” Miller said.
Jennifer L. Williams, Communications Specialist