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Nine Campuses to Receive Grants From Ask Big Questions Pilot Innovation Fund

by Hillel News |Dec 08, 2011|Comments

Ask Big Questions. Ask Big Questions is delighted to announce the first recipients of the Ask Big Questions Pilot Innovation Fund. Recognizing that many campuses are doing great work to develop a better culture of conversation, the purpose of the Ask Big Questions Pilot Innovation Fund is to identify and support such initiatives, and to learn from them.

Over 30 campuses applied for funding, and the total amount of requests was over $500,000. Each application was developed in partnership between the campus Hillel and an academic or co-curricular department of the university. Applications were evaluated for their ability to engage diverse populations in conversation, bring together curricular and co-curricular units of the college or university, and foster self-awareness and deeper relations with others in a context of community.

Ask Big Questions awarded a total of $99,470 to nine campuses in the United States.
Campuses and projects include:

Drexel University: Drexel Journey Conversations
This initiative will convene students of diverse backgrounds for conversation about their journeys of identity formation. Grant funding supports a training retreat that uses the Journey Conversations model, regular small group discussion meetings, and development of an enhanced interfaith baccalaureate ceremony.

Juniata College: Planting Seeds
The grant supports this service-learning program on a small liberal arts campus in rural Pennsylvania, in which diverse students participate in direct anti-hunger work alongside farmers in the local community, and convene for meaningful reflection following each service event.

New York University: Moral Leadership Seminar
NYU will develop a for-credit course to deepen students' capacity for identifying, articulating, and organizing to address adaptive challenges in their communities and the world. The curriculum includes a significant focus on personal and collective narrative.

Stanford University: Hospitality and Welcoming the 'Stranger'
The Hospitality initiative includes volunteer opportunities in community agencies, conversation sessions, major lectures, and a for-credit course. The initiative responds to President Obama's Interfaith Community Service Campus Challenge, and brings together an extensive group of faculty, student life staff, and Hillel to work in partnership.

Towson University: Freedom Square Online
Freedom Square Online extends the Freedom Square initiative of the Office for Civic Engagement, which engages the campus in discussion about important questions facing the community and society. Grant funding supports a Thoughtful Thursdays discussion series and creation of a Freedom Square Fellows program.

University of Michigan: Makom
This partnership between Hillel and University Intergroup Dialogue (IGD), an academic unit of the university, creates an intensive semester-long program for students to explore personal identity and commitment. Participants will be trained and charged to facilitate conversations for others.

University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill: Tea Talks
The Tea Talks initiative is a monthly dialogue forum for leaders of diverse campus communities to gather for reflective conversation about important and challenging questions. Funding supports expansion of the program, both in number of events and through digital media, and a retreat for training dialogue facilitators.

University of Pennsylvania: Moral Voices Rwanda Seminar
This intercultural service-learning initiative brings together student fellows to explore the dynamics of cultural and ethnic violence and strategies for their elimination. Fellows participate in a university seminar, organize conversations for hundreds of their peers, and participate in a 10-day journey to Rwanda to work with youth orphaned by the Rwandan civil war and to learn about the conflict and its aftermath.

Virginia Tech University: Advancing Ut Prosim (That I May Serve)
The initiative includes weekly open space conversations on challenging questions for leaders of diverse campus organizations, a broader initiative to engage the campus in conversation, immersive training experiences for student leaders, and a community-wide event to commemorate and respond to the fifth anniversary of the 2007 campus shootings.

For more information contact: abq@hillel.org

About Ask Big Questions

Ask Big Questions brings diverse college students together for conversations that help people understand themselves and others. These conversations create community and spark action.

We don't have many opportunities today to develop relationships with people of different backgrounds who may hold different viewpoints. When we have those opportunities, we are able to see beyond our differences to discover what we have more deeply in common. By having conversations around life's "Big Questions," we can create understanding among people on campus, in our communities, and around the world.

"Big Questions" are concerned with the topics that matter to all of us, regardless of our religious traditions, cultural heritage, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and personal or political beliefs. Together, through these conversations, we can understand each other, understand ourselves, and make the world a better place.

Ask Big Questions is an initiative of Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life in partnership with the Einhorn Family Charitable Trust.

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