One of the most important but often overlooked powers of a university is its ability to convene. To bring people together to explore and work for a common good. Father Michael Graham, SJ, President of Xavier, acknowledged this in 2001, the first year of his presidency, in a document entitled, "University as Citizen." Xavier has made this commitment to connecting the Xavier community to the greater Cincinnati community a foundational part of our mission since that time. It was this commitment that led to the development of the new Edward B. Brueggeman Center for Dialogue in 2003 and through the work of the Center, and other initiatives at Xavier, constitutes one of the most important ways in which we live the Jesuit mission.
One of the main features of the The Brueggeman Center is that all of our work - locally, nationally and globally - is collaborative. We partner on every project we do and have since our beginning over 15 years ago.
Collaboration is not just a philosophy of operation, it is the mission. Dialogue is already collaborative but dialogue must lead to collaborative action. Collaborative work is the most challenging but ultimately the most effective work we can do - what we can accomplish together is always greater than what we can accomplish alone.
We believe that modeling dialogue and collaboration for our students and involving them in challenging collaborative projects is a critical part a transformative educational experience.
The Center convenes diverse groups to engage in dialogue on the critical issues of our day with conferences, research and publications; providing opportunities for interfaith dialogue and funding interfaith collaboration; incubating projects and non-profit organizations; and sponsoring international research trips for students.
The Center began with a focus on interfaith dialogue but quickly realized that doing that in the ways it has been done over the last 50 years was not enough. Our approach is to engage the religions in cross-sectoral dialogues - not only with each other but with other academic disciplines, non-profits, the business community and the government. It is this that has led the Center to become involved in the various areas in which it now works.
Every project begins and ends in dialogue but we build on dialogue to explore new cross-sectoral forms of active collaboration, working together toward more comprehensive and systemic solutions for our common issues.
We understand that real systemic change comes slowly - in baby steps. Some of our projects have been in development for a decade or more. Collaboration, persistence and partnerships are the foundations of systemic change.
The Center engages Xavier in the slow work of building networks of key partners regionally, nationally and globally. The Center embodies the Jesuit mission by enabling the university to leverage and activate these networks to work for systemic change on issues of social and environmental justice.
The Center's work focuses on five areas, striving to connect each to all the others though dialogue and collaboration. It is by means of this cross-sectoral work that we hope to find systemic solutions to issues.
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The Winter-Cohen Family Brueggeman Fellows Program has sent students to over 55 different countries doing research and service.
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Depth and Breadth of the Challenge