University Debate Initiative

Americans are losing the ability to talk to each other, especially when they disagree. This is happening on university campuses, too, where experts say students increasingly are drawn to professors, speakers, and fellow students who have similar backgrounds and views, and are failing to learn how to engage productively with opposing voices.

To that end, the SNF Agora Institute’s University Debate Initiative aims to model the habits and virtues of reasoned debate across different perspectives, and the possibilities for finding common ground amid disagreement.

The University Debate Initiative will host a pair of marquee moderated debates each year that bring to the university major speakers, such as public intellectuals, former government officials, and media personalities. The program will also fund and support a number of additional debates organized by students each semester, to enable healthy debate to be a recurring feature of campus life.

Dialogue and Debate Director

The initiative will be led by a new Dialogue and Debate Director with experience in debates, who will work in close partnership with a student committee to carry out a series of debates over the course of each academic year. The Director will moderate marquee events, guide the students directly involved in the initiative, and teach the values and methods of debate more broadly across the university. The Dialogue and Debate Director will be a new, full-time position within the SNF Agora Institute. For more  information about the new position or to apply, click here. 

Debate Initiative Student Committee

The Hopkins Student Organization for Programming (“the HOP”) will convene the new student committee, which will identify and select debate topics and speakers. This primarily student committee will comprise 5-7 JHU students, a Center for Social Concern staff adviser, and a faculty adviser.

Johns Hopkins students can apply to serve on the committee through the Hopkins Student Programming Board.