Quinnipiac University

Critical Conversations Speaker Series

The objective of the Critical Conversations Speaker Series is to foster an inclusive and intellectually stimulating environment at Quinnipiac, promoting inclusivity of thought, respectful dialogue, empathetic engagement, and open-mindedness among students, faculty, and staff.  The events are designed to empower participants to be better prepared to embrace inclusivity of thought by actively listening to and engaging with concepts and ideas that may challenge their personal values, without dismissing or silencing differing viewpoints.

All events are free and open to the public.

Past Events

We were honored to host the following conversations during the 2023-2024 academic year:

Ronald Jackson

The Road to Community: Navigating Difference, Healing Traumas, and Building Inclusive Communities

Held: November 28, 2023
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Presenter: Ronald L. Jackson II
Distinguished university research professor of communication and former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Cincinnati

Lawrence Ross

Blackballed: The Black and White Politics of Race on America’s Campuses

Presenter: Lawrence Ross
Author, lecturer, writer and creator

Held: Thursday, February 1, 2024
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A bold mix of history and the current climate, Blackballed is a call to action for universities to make radical changes to their policies and standards to foster a better legacy for all students.

Leading Edge Coaches sit at a table with a laptop and point to the camera

Can We Talk? Engaging in Meaningful Dialogue That Might be Uncomfortable

Cindy Maher,
President, Leading Edge Coaching & Development
Carol Grannis,
EdD and Co-Founder Leading Edge Coaching & Development

Held: Tuesday, February 27, 2024
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American Sage Al Yankovic has said: “If you want to avoid heated arguments, never discuss religion, politics, or whether the toilet paper roll should go over or under.”
The bottom line is that we need to learn how to discuss difficult things with courage and curiosity to support learning and growth. That's what this workshop is all about. Through a blend of live improv comedy and interactive conversations, Leading Edge instructors Cindy Maher and Jamie Guite will offer skills and strategies to help you engage in meaningful discussions about race, gender, age, and other social identities that impact your experience at work or in the classroom.

Senator Joseph Lieberman

Creating Dialogue Across Differences

Presenter: Former U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman

Held: Thursday, March 7, 2024
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Perhaps best known as the Democratic candidate for vice president in 2000, Joseph Lieberman has established himself as a national leader — one who works across party lines to find common ground, a person who speaks his conscience and who gets things done for the good of all people in America.

John Wood Jr.

Conversation with John Wood Jr.

Presenter: John Wood Jr.
National ambassador and author

Held: Tuesday, March 26, 2024
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Wood focused on topics related to political polarization, bridging ideological divides, and fostering respectful and constructive conversations in today's society.

Martin Looney and Themis Klarides

Working Across the Aisle: A Conversation with Martin Looney and Themis Klarides

Martin Looney,
Connecticut Senate President Pro Tempore
Themis Klarides, Former State Representative
Moderator: Jennifer Brown,
Dean of the School of Law

Held: Thursday, March 28, 2024
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Connecticut Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney and Themis Klarides, who served 11 terms as a state representative, presented a fireside chat about their time in the Connecticut legislature, how they’ve managed to be friends and sometimes opponents on policy, and how they’ve reached across the aisle from time to time to get things done. School of Law Dean Jennifer Brown moderated the conversation.

Mira Sucharov and Omar Dajani

Understanding and Explaining Events in Israel/Palestine: The Road to Empathy

Held: Monday, April 8, 2024
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Presenters: Mira Sucharov and Omar Dajani

For the last two years, Omar Dajani, a Palestinian American law professor, and Mira Sucharov, a Canadian Jewish political scientist, have been trying to make sense of Israel/Palestine. Together, they’ve been writing a book and developing a podcast about their travels there.

This session brought Dajani and Sucharov in conversation with the Quinnipiac community to address the question of how to talk effectively about the crisis in Israel/Palestine. They shared tools for holding space for Israeli, Jewish, Palestinian and Muslim trauma; how to maintain one’s scholarly skills of engagement in times of pain and suffering; and how to think about the difference between explaining and justifying, and between describing and prescribing. They addressed the question of when it is appropriate to offer historical and political context without intensifying the trauma of affected communities, and they asked how we can encourage Israelis and Palestinians – and their respective supporters – to look forward while also coming to terms with the past.

Charlie Baker

Conversation with Charlie Baker

Held: Monday, April 29
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Presenter: Charlie Baker
NCAA President

Charlie Baker is an American businessman and politician who currently serves as president of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). He served as the 72nd governor of Massachusetts from 2015 to 2023, and held two cabinet positions under two previous governors of Massachusetts. He also served as the CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care for a decade.

Baker knows how to manage conflict. As the twice elected Republican governor in a historically blue state, he brings his proven track record of building bridges to the world of athletics in the NCAA. President Judy Olian hosted an interview-style critical conversation about leadership and the tools he has leveraged in his decades of experience spearheading transformations at high-profile institutions in the private and public sectors.

Additional Resources