Democracy Week Presents First Dialogue Across Difference Event

By Alicia Method, Staff Writer

On Tuesday, Gettysburg students and community members gathered in the College Union Building to discuss topics such as climate and diversity and learn about constructive dialogue. The workshop, titled “Dialogue Across Difference,” is part of Eisenhower Institute’s Democracy Week, which features lectures and voter registration events. 

Hosted by the Eisenhower Institute and Urban Rural Action, the event fostered conversations between people with varying political beliefs. 

Assistant Director of the Eisenhower Institute Kevin Lavery spoke about the inception of the event, citing the importance of listening to views from all places on the political spectrum. 

“Democracy is about having all those voices hear each other,” Lavery said. 

The “Dialogue Across Difference” event hosted Gettysburg students as well as community members, blending a variety of backgrounds, political leanings, and ages. 

One community attendee, Patti Robinson, is the president of Mediation Services of Adams County, and a mediator herself. 

Robinson discussed the importance of mediators learning “how to get people to talk about issues they don’t agree on.” 

“We don’t have a lot of experience with people from different backgrounds, so it’s a good practice to learn how to bridge this divide,” said Robinson.

One of the attendees, Logan Troy ’26 attended the event because a professor recommended it to him. 

“I’ve heard a lot of great things about the Eisenhower Institute,” Troy commented, “and I wanted to see how I could fit in and where my interests lie. I don’t really know what to expect but I’m excited.”

When entering the room, community members and students were asked to sit at a table of their choice, which were labeled with various topics such as climate, diversity, and criminal justice. Later on, the participants practiced discussing these topics with those sitting at their table.

The event began with a dinner provided for the participants. While eating, community members and students were treated to a presentation by Urban Rural Action which laid out the “ABCs of Constructive Dialogue.” 

These rules included asking others to understand their perspective, breaking down personal views, and checking one’s understanding of the alternative perspective. 

In addition to advice about constructive dialogue, the participants engaged in various exercises, such as counting the number of ‘f’s’ in a paragraph. The purpose of this exercise was to show that people can read the exact same information and come to different conclusions. 

After learning tactics for discussing issues with people on the opposite side of the political aisle, participants role-played these conversations with the individuals at their table.  

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Author: Gettysburgian Staff

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