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January 11, 2024: Update on spring Dialogue and Dignity program

January 11, 2024 email from President Sarah Bolton to campus: “Update on spring Dialogue and Dignity program

Dear Whitman Colleagues and Students,

I hope you have all had good winter holidays with opportunities for rest and restoration.  As we begin the new semester, I wanted to provide an update on the Dialogue and Dignity Initiative.  This initiative builds from the strategic plan, which states “we will make the most of the extraordinary opportunity for connection and face-to-face learning on a diverse and international campus. We will elevate the importance of constructive civil discourse, where honest conversation from different points of view is valued, and leads to deeper understanding and creative collaboration.”  As we shared in the fall, the Dialogue and Dignity Initiative will start this spring by bringing speakers and programs to campus that offer multiple perspectives on the conflicts in Israel and Gaza, as well as on the related issues of antisemitism and Islamophobia.  The initiative will also provide focussed opportunities to help build our capacity for fruitful and sustained dialogue.  The work of the Dialog and Dignity Initiative does not stand alone.  It complements the work of Whitman’s own expert faculty, staff and students, who have done so much to engage, educate and support our community.

This spring’s programs continue to develop, but we wanted to share with you the speakers and events that are already scheduled. Each speaker will give a public lecture, and will also have open opportunities for conversation and dialogue.  Many of the speakers will be available for conversation with classes and/or student organizations, and we will be reaching out to academic departments and others to set up each visit so that it serves our whole community to the greatest extent possible. If you have questions or would like to consider engaging one of the speakers in discussion with a class, student organization, or other group, please contact Maggie Eaheart at eaheartm@whitman.edu.  In addition to a series of guest speakers, the initiative will also include workshops and skill-building opportunities to enhance our ability to engage with those with whom we might disagree.

Speaker series: 


We will provide updates on the program, including times and titles for the workshops and public talks, as well as any additional events, as they become finalized.

My deepest thanks go to everyone on campus who has been working to help support and educate our community through the catastrophic conflict in Israel and Gaza.  Special thanks to the many students, staff and faculty who have been offering opportunities for learning, discussion, care and support over the fall semester, and who continue to do so, and to Kazi Joshua, John Johnson, and Alzada Tipton, who have worked to bring together the speakers and programs for this spring. 

One of the best parts of a Whitman education is the breadth of student learning inside and outside the classroom, engaging deeply with a wide range of viewpoints and ideas.  Such an education is crucial in developing leaders to address the challenges and opportunities of the future - people who will make a difference in communities around the world.  I am deeply proud of the Whitman community, and look forward to the ways we will continue to learn together.

All my very best, 

Sarah Bolton

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