Categorized | Featured, Features

Debating for Democracy’s lasting impact on community

On Friday, Oct. 22, students at The College of Wooster took time out of their busy class schedules to participate in a six-hour training workshop entitled “Debating for Democracy (D4D) on the Road.”

According to the Assistant Director of Project Pericles (the sponsor of the program) David Rippon, the objective of the D4D project is “to help novice and seasoned organizers develop effective strategies to build and gain political power.”

The program encouraged participants to think about developing their arguments in a different manner by appealing to other people’s values rather than confronting them first on the issues. By effectively finding a common ground in “universal values like justice, compassion and love” as Mandara Meyers, the leader of the D4D project, presented “are the best ways to approaching the seemingly unapproachable; to find commonalities among people and not differences.”

Meyers, from the Center for Progressive Leadership (CLP) based out of Washington, D.C. whose organization has trained over 5,000 diverse leaders at nearly every level of political involvement since its foundation, compelled the new D4D graduates to take “daily steps to incorporate what [they] learned to bring about a more lasting change.”

As graduates of the D4D program went out into the world with a renewed perspective on activism and student participation in democracy, D4D participant Stipo Josipovic ’13 stated “[the D4D program] presented very interesting ways to get your point across…by appealing to other people’s values and emotions first, you can actively engage those who you might otherwise have seemingly irreconcilable differences with.”

Josipovic went on to further say that by finding commonalities in values, you can better get your point across and more effectively attain a solution or even “convince people that your way is the better way of doing things.”

In terms of steps that D4D graduates have actually taken in pursuing political activism, Josipovic recently participated as a delegate for Colombia at the American Model United Nations conference in Chicago, Ill., and according to him, “being armed with the skills D4D taught me, I was better able to engage other delegates and more effectively work through global issues in a proactive manner.”

Although the conference was Josipovic’s first United Nations simulation, he felt optimistic that he would again apply his D4D skills in the future and not only to the Model United Nations experience.

Another D4D participant, Lily Christman ’13, has taken her pursuit of political advocacy in an different direction by following her passion for LBGTQ rights; specifically same sex marriage rights in the U.S. Christman stated she was unsure about what to expect when initially signing up for the D4D conference but “was surprised by the diversity of issues that people showed such passion for and that being surrounded by such driven individuals…I could feel nothing but inspired.”

Christman further stated she will be taking the fervor she gained from her D4D experience and applying it now and in the future towards LBGTQ advocacy by working with LBGTQ advocacy groups.

“With an issue of such moral contention like same-sex marriage rights, finding common ground in values with others that have opposing viewpoints is vital to engage them in discussion and then be able to include them in discussion of the issues,” said Christman.

Amyaz Moledina, professor of economics at the College of Wooster and program director for Project Pericles on campus, stated that “the ultimate goal is that you are empowered to become more engaged citizens in your democracy.”

He went on to further remark that “at Wooster, our vision for inclusion is a trans-boundary one. We believe that problems or issues that you care about have now come to a point that they transcend the borders that we have created to understand them. Hence our engagement has to be both global and local.”

Anyone interested in participating in activism, social entrepreneurship and advocacy is encouraged to contact Professor Moledina at

This post was written by:

- who has written 1201 posts on The Wooster Voice.

Contact the author

Leave a Reply