The New York Council for the Humanities has been awarded $200,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities’ program The Humanities in the Public Square, to support “The Democratic Dialogue Project,” a yearlong, statewide series of programming that will explore the meaning of democratic citizenship.
The Democratic Dialogue Project aims to help New Yorkers gain better insight into the struggles their communities face and to create spaces where advocates for different, sometimes seemingly incompatible, solutions can learn from and about each other. The project will link local realities to national concerns, examining some of the ways inequality appears in our society, and how these local inequalities contribute to broader national concerns about the state of American democracy and citizenship.
The Democratic Dialogue Project will unite New Yorkers for conversations about pressing contemporary issues.
“The humanities are more than a set of discrete academic disciplines,” said Sara Ogger, Executive Director of the New York Council for the Humanities. “The humanities are a set of tools, the most effective set of tools, to deal with the complications of democratic engagement and trust. These complications are precisely what The Democratic Dialogue Project addresses.”
Through a series of stakeholder meetings, town halls, and other resources, the project will address a variety of concerns in a set of diverse communities:
- In New York City, how the humanities can help reanimate national dialogue.
- In Albany, the persistent challenges of gender inequity as the centennial of Women’s Suffrage in New York State approaches.
- In Buffalo, the community’s entrenched history of segregation.
- In Rochester, the inequities surrounding public education.
- In Jamestown, issues of migration and tolerance.
- In Poughkeepsie, local economic history and recent efforts at urban renewal, including issues of income and social inequality.
Alongside each of these events, the Council will work with each community to develop Community Conversations Toolkits on the same issues so that any organization in New York State can host its own town hall style conversation on these issues with community members. The Council will provide the toolkits free of charge to organizations, train discussion leaders on the best practices for facilitating productive dialogue, and offer microgrants to participating organizations. We will also be developing a new Reading & Discussion theme that addresses democratic trust, civic engagement, and the humanities.
The Democratic Dialogue Project has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
For more information about the Democratic Dialogue Project, contact Michael Washburn, Director of Programs, at 646-575-1787 or [email protected].