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CDI and SCHEV partner to boost civic skills at 12 campuses across Virginia

Category:Press Release
Cambriae Lee|April 3, 2023

Media Contact: [email protected]

Richmond, VA – The Constructive Dialogue Institute (CDI) and The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) are partnering with 12 colleges and universities to implement campus-wide dialogue initiatives to boost inclusion, free expression and civil discourse."This initiative complements longstanding efforts by Virginia's colleges and universities to equip students with skills they need to succeed in their personal, professional and civic lives," said Peter Blake, director of SCHEV.

Each institution has committed to a minimum 18-month partnership with CDI and SCHEV, beginning in Spring 2023. As a part of the collaboration, CDI will roll out its evidence-based e-learning program, Perspectives, to students and offer professional development and strategies to support faculty and staff. The Perspectives program is proven through randomized controlled trials to decrease polarization and help learners engage more thoughtfully across ideological differences.

"Virginia has become a leader in promoting dialogue across its college campuses," said Caroline Mehl, co-founder & executive director of CDI. "We are honored to be a part of this important work, and we hope other states will follow in Virginia's footsteps."

William & Mary was one of the first institutions in the cohort to bring CDI's resources to its campus. Last fall, the university rolled out the Perspectives program to all incoming students through orientation and is eager to build on the initiative this year.

"We’ve been given an intellectual toolkit with practical applications and a public square with which to learn together and restore trust in our institutions," said William & Mary Associate Vice President for Student Engagement and Leadership Andrew D. Stelljes.

Other institutional leaders within the cohort have expressed their enthusiasm to work alongside CDI and SCHEV and take on a pivotal role in preparing the next generation for democratic citizenship.

"Norfolk State University is excited to be part of the Virginia cohort partnering with the Constructive Dialogue Institute. We look forward to adding this data-driven tool to complement the work across the University to promote the positive exchange of ideas in the context of the rich diversity that comes with being a Historically Black College and University," said Norfolk State University Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Leonard Brown Jr.

"As Danville Community College participates in the Constructive Dialogue Institute program, we not only enrich our own campus community but also demonstrate our commitment to fostering meaningful conversations and building bridges of understanding in our society," said Dr. Jerry Wallace, president of Danville Community College.

Participating institutions are:

  1. Christopher Newport University
  2. Danville Community College
  3. George Mason University
  4. James Madison University
  5. Longwood University
  6. Norfolk State University
  7. Northern Virginia Community College
  8. Radford University
  9. Richard Bland College
  10. University of Mary Washington
  11. Virginia Tech
  12. William and Mary


About the Constructive Dialogue Institute (CDI)Co-founded in 2017 by psychologist Jonathan Haidt and Caroline Mehl, the Constructive Dialogue Institute (CDI) is a non-profit organization that builds educational tools to equip Americans with the skills to communicate and collaborate across differences. To accomplish this goal, CDI translates the latest behavioral science research into educational resources that are evidence-based, practical, and scalable for institutions, educators, and communities.

About the State Council of Higher Education for VirginiaThe State Council of Higher Education for Virginia is the state’s coordinating agency for higher education. With Pathways to Opportunity: The Virginia Plan for Higher Education, SCHEV is dedicated to making Virginia the best state for education by 2030.


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