Why an organization awards $ 2,000 in grants to promote civil speech |


Bringing disparate groups together in various ways can benefit higher education institutions and students.

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Two student-led organizations on campus with different perspectives coming together in one place to host an event? What could possibly go wrong? Or, what could possibly be going on?

The Common Sense Society, a nonprofit foundation that promotes “freedom, prosperity and beauty,” relies on strategy that works and believes that the foundations of free speech and civil discourse in the United States in depend.

So it is a challenge for higher education groups to work together to organize debates or other gatherings and they will shell out up to $ 2,000 in grants to make it happen. Those who wish to participate have two weeks to formulate their plans as the application deadline ends on October 13.

So why is that, why now?

“There is no greater threat to higher education than the absence of open discussion and debate on campus,” said Marion Smith, President and CEO of Common Sense Society. “The suppression of free speech on college campuses has never been more widespread. “

Whether it’s the polarized political climate or climate change, debates over social justice or healthcare, these are just a few of the topics that have not only divided Americans, but have led some leaders to try to hinder freedom of expression. Critical race theory is one of the strongest examples, as governors and states have sought to ban it in classrooms.

The idea behind the grants is to bring together disparate groups of individuals to discuss issues and unite on solutions while keeping the flow of dialogue alive. There are few better places than on college campuses, where a multitude of cultures and thoughts merge into a structured and powerful academic environment. However, in order to keep civil discourse and groups conversing, events such as those suggested by Common Sense must take place.

“We have a way out of the US crisis of contempt and coercion. We need to provide the means for the next generation of leaders to speak out fearlessly and engage in civil discourse, ”Smith said. “This is often encouraged by structured debate on college campuses. As a society, we must relearn to encounter conflicting ideas without dehumanizing those who hold them. “

The Common Sense Society understands the power of speech and civil debate as it has helped launch hundreds of them in the United States and abroad. It also offers scholarship opportunities in UK, Hungary and one on US soil in Bluffton, SC.

CSS officials say the organization of these events should benefit the entire community, whether on campus or in the area served by the institutions. They offered three event possibilities:

  • Organize a debate with a public discussion that includes opposing views, but allows participants and the public to know why having forums with open and civil dialogue makes sense
  • Organize a beautification effort or a campus clean-up initiative
  • Organize a social gathering that brings groups together to share their views with a speaker who can help facilitate or lead the discussions

The CSS said they have many more ideas that can start the conversation and can even recommend speakers as well as provide frameworks for discussion that work. These can be entered on the application forms.

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