The primary mission of Xavier University is to educate each student intellectually, morally, and spiritually in an inclusive environment of open and free inquiry. In addition, the University provides a context in which all our members—students, faculty, staff—are challenged and supported in cultivating lives of reflection, compassion, and informed action.
The Edward B. Brueggeman Center for Dialogue promotes that overarching University mission by engaging in authentic dialogue with others to collaboratively create opportunities and programs that educate the whole person, promote the common good, and serve others.
The need for dialogue
What passes for dialogue in the mass media is too often ideologically closed and politically volatile punditry. At the same time, communication has become unidirectional: the mass media speak at us, not with us. At the same time, our institutions (social, business, government and educational) encourage isolation through specialization and structures that foster competition rather than cooperation. That our communities are disintegrating should not surprise us.
Communities must be grounded in open, honest, trustworthy communication. And just as information is not wisdom, the communication of our age is not dialogue.
Authentic dialogue can only happen if the participants are willing to actually listen to others, especially those with whom they might disagree. Authentic dialogue can only happen if the participants are willing to risk their presuppositions. Authentic dialogue must have the potential for transformation of the participants. Providing spaces where we can dare to take those risks and be transformed is critical. Universities often provide that space. The Brueggeman Center is a space where commitment to dialogue is the first and foremost expectation.
Because the Brueggeman Center partners on every project, all our projects begin and end in dialogue. Our projects use dialogue and collaboration to build social capital—the human-to-human engagement that forges the civic bonds upon which our communities are built.
Collaboration emerges out of dialogue and social capital emerges out of collaboration. Social capital is not an abstract idea of collaboration but the actual hard, slow work of community-building. Only through dialogue will we be able to forge the commitment to work together toward those common goods essential to a thriving community.
For more about how the Center's work has promoted dialogue and transformation, check out the Take A Risk, Be Transformed flip book.