A simple but highly effective idea whose time has come
Agree to Disagree is a project of the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy Student Leadership Council (SLC), born out of the conviction that people of differing political viewpoints should be able to have a respectful discussion and learn about one another’s beliefs.
Each participating student is paired with another student who holds a different ideology. The two sit facing each other and engage in active listening and conversation on the foundations of their political beliefs.
Guest speakers introduce the idea of rational exchange; facilitators guide students toward respectful, thoughtful dialogue.
Beyond discussing why they believe what they believe, students also talk about the importance of civil discourse on campus. At the end of the event, they're given the opportunity to further exchange ideas with those they meet.
Agree to Disagree has grown with each successive event. The most recent session was filled to capacity, and several students had to be turned away for lack of space!
We want to continue to develop this worthy initiative and spread the conversation campus wide. We are looking into several areas of growth for which we need support:
- Fostering partnerships with other organizations, such as Garnet and Gold Key Leadership Honorary, to boost the range and appeal of our mission
- Inviting notable speakers, such as bestselling author Gregg Hurwitz, to mentor and inspire students
- Securing spaces, such as FSU's Turnbull Conference Center, to accommodate the growing number of students attending the event
- Increasing the frequency of the program and establishing similar, smaller satellite events, such as daytime roundtables and conversation lunches - all with the aim of keeping the dialogue going and allowing more and more students to take part
What students are saying about Agree to Disagree:
"I enjoyed having thoughtful conversations with people I have never met before. Agree to Disagree gave a unique environment where we could both be open to each other and respect each other’s perspectives and opinions.”
"I most enjoyed being able to express myself in an environment where I didn't feel as though I would be judged or disrespected for my beliefs just because someone didn't agree with them. It was refreshing on a college campus to be able to express political belief without conflict. "
"This event has taught me to keep an open mind and listen to every side and viewpoint. I learned not to make such a snap judgement when hearing someone’s political stance and realized I might not agree wholeheartedly with everything my own political party stands for."
2018-2019 officers of the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy Student Leadership Council
with Dean Tim Chapin
Agree to Disagree began in Spring 2017 with 25 people - a small gathering but a lively and productive evening. After the first event, a partnership was setup with Power of We, a visionary campus organization. The dynamic, forward-thinking students of the college SLC saw a shared goal in Power of We's mission to engage students of differing perspectives, exchange contrasting ideas, and embrace shared experiences. In our Fall 2018 session, we were fortunate to feature guest speaker Liz Joyner, executive director of the Village Square, a Tallahassee organization that builds community across ideological, racial, ethnic and religious divisions.