Healy Hall in spring
Category: Discovery & Impact, Student Experience

Title: GU Politics student group represents Georgetown at Biden School conference on civility

Date Published: May 2, 2022
Biden School’s Stavros Niarchos Foundation Ithaca Initiative inaugural National Student Dialogue. Group photo: Benjamin Tu (C'23), Ashna Singh (MPP'23), Grace Xu (F'23), Kevin Zhang (F'25) and GU Politics Managing Director Julia Newton
Benjamin Tu (C’23), Ashna Singh (MPP’23), Grace Xu (F’23), Kevin Zhang (F’25) and GU Politics Managing Director Julia Newton

The goal of the conference is to further students’ understanding and application of the principles of democracy in relation to civil discourse, an expression of views that’s intended to promote mutual understanding. 

“Our students’ participation in the National Student Dialogue conference helped advance the McCourt School and GU Politics’ shared mission to promote productive dialogue and prepare students to work across differences,” said GU Politics Managing Director Julia Newton.

Among the students representing Georgetown was McCourt School student Ashna Singh (MPP‘23). Over the course of the weekend, Singh and her peers participated in a variety of unique sessions and workshops designed to educate them on civil discourse and how to best use those skills to make an impact on the Hilltop. 

Biden School’s Stavros Niarchos Foundation Ithaca Initiative inaugural National Student Dialogue. Group photo: Grace Xu (F'23), Valerie Biden Owens, Ashna Singh (MPP'23) and Kevin Zhang (F'25)
Grace Xu (F’23), Valerie Biden Owens, Ashna Singh (MPP’23) and Kevin Zhang (F’25)

Learning how to address viewpoint diversity on college campuses

Each participating university group was asked to identify a civility challenge on their campus to be workshopped at the conference. The students representing Georgetown chose social issues debate and were encouraged to engage in dialogue with each other as well as peers from other universities. 

“Topics associated with civil discourse can be difficult to discuss,” said Newton. “Many students formed bonds with one another quickly as a result. Ashna was able to apply lessons from her graduate coursework and even made a connection with a newly admitted student who will be attending McCourt this fall.” 

Through group discussion, the Georgetown students were exposed to the challenges of viewpoint diversity on different campuses across the country. “We learned the different roles stakeholders play in order to ensure that diverse views are incorporated with civility,” said Singh.

“We concluded that it’s not always the solutions that help solve a problem,” she said. “It’s more important to engage the right stakeholders in finding solutions.”