Discussing Difference Virtually

The campus community is coming together online for Conversations About and Across Difference.

The popular campus event sponsored by the Office of Academic Affairs is designed to encourage faculty, staff and students to cultivate the capacity to perceive and explore many kinds of difference. Although students, faculty and staff are now working and learning remotely, the program has gone virtual.

During the first virtual session in early April, Dean Mark Schneider welcomed attendees and explained the new format, saying it is “an effort to recreate some of the serendipity we experience on campus through encountering each other as we go about our day and to encourage the quality and variety of discussion we enjoy at the weekly lunches.” He then introduced the main questions for discussion:

  • How is Covid-19 affecting you?
  • In what ways has it prevented you from connecting with others?
  • In what ways has it changed your perceptions of our interconnected world?

The first virtual conversation included 22 participants, who broke off into three smaller virtual groups sharing their own experiences as well as anecdotes that spoke to the experiences of others at Ursinus. Topics included what the world will look like when we return to normal social interaction; how the college can continue to assist students through the pandemic; challenges in motivation; financial pressures; basic equipment issues; and stress.

On April 13, the second virtual session will pose how disasters and emergencies often allow people to shake themselves into higher levels of service and community, challenging participants to consider what new kinds of service and community building they are seeing.

Virtual conversations will continue throughout the remainder of the semester. –By Monique Kelly