In recent times, there has been heightened national interest around topics like “civil discourse” and “polarization” but very few public models for how people can thoughtfully engage in conversations on difficult topics. This is one reason why Friends School of Baltimore launched the Institute for Public Involvement and Responsible Dialogue or INSPIRED. INSPIRED is one of the school’s signature programs and offers students a wide range of experiences to help them navigate complex conversations, engage meaningfully with their peers, and build long-lasting collaborations. Some of these experiences include restorative justice training, off-campus partnerships with organizations like the McKim Center of Baltimore City, and a speaker series.

“As a Quaker school, Friends is uniquely positioned to offer the INSPIRED program. INSPIRED shows what’s possible when we engage in passionate conversations about controversial issues while respecting, listening to, and learning from others we may disagree with,” says Greta Rutstein, Director of Academics. INSPIRED ultimately seeks to build a culture of responsible dialogue on campus that models best practices for building and sustaining community and prepares students for fuller engagement in wider civic conversations.

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