The DCI is hosting its fourth year of D Teams! This year, we are excited to present three topics of major public concern for each D Team to deliberate about. Registration for Fall 2023 D Teams is open from August 8 until September 10.
What are D Teams?
D Teams are small teams of about 6-10 people that meet three times per semester in order to discuss contentious topics in empathic and productive ways, and to pave the way toward catalyzing creative solutions to difficult problems in the public sphere. D Teams may meet in person or virtually.
A few things make the D Team experience unique compared to other discussions about controversial topics. First, D Team discussions are facilitated by a DCI Fellow who has been trained in the kind of facilitation that leads to good discussions. Second, D Team participants get access to deliberation guides designed specifically for each topic that they discuss. And third, D Teams provide an opportunity to connect meaningfully with others beyond one’s immediate social or professional circle. You can learn more about the background and structure of this program here.
It was my first DCI experience, and I was not sure quite what to expect. I was one of 2 non-students on our team, and part of the draw to participate was to hear and learn from current students how they think and feel about such a difficult, complex, politically-charged topic. It was an enlightening and encouraging experience; I came away more hopeful, and impressed by the DCI initiative.—D Team Participant
What are the topics of discussion for Fall 2023?
The Fall 2023 topics all relate, in one way or another, to the concept of autonomy, which most simply is our capacity for self-governance or self-determination. The Fall D Teams will be exploring questions about autonomy in the spheres of public speech, abortion, and book censorship.
Autonomy is something we all value, and yet we may interpret its relevance to these issues in different ways. Some may focus on a woman’s bodily autonomy, for example, while others may focus on the autonomy of the fetus, which they also may consider an unborn child. Likewise, some may prioritize parents’ or a community’s capacity to limit exposure to certain written works, while others may prioritize adults and children being able to independently choose what kinds of texts they can read. And some may emphasize protecting people’s autonomy to speak their minds, while others may emphasize protecting people’s autonomy to live without suffering the harms of some forms of speech.
There are many questions we can ask about the different ethical dimensions of speech, abortion, and book censorship, but it is important to also ask why these questions strike us (and many of you, as our survey results showed–see below) as significant now. It may be that these issues are all interconnected at a fundamental level as questions related to autonomy, even though the practical or political details differ.
In Fall 2023, we will therefore be investigating the nature and significance of autonomy, its relationship with other values, and the role it plays in each of these topics, while paying attention to the particular details each issue presents. More specifically, all D Team members will have the opportunity to discuss the following questions:
- Speech, Harm, and Offense: Can speech harm, and what is the relationship between harm and offense? What do our answers mean for autonomy and dialogue about contentious topics?
- Abortion: What are the implications of autonomy for the morality and legality of abortion?
- Book Censorship: What are the implications of autonomy for the morality and legality of censoring books?
Why did we choose these topics?
The DCI solicited feedback on potential topics that were suggested by the DCI Fellows and former D Team participants via a survey that was shared within the Davidson community and the DCI’s online community — our blog and newsletter subscribers and Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter followers. These topics were among the top choices that our survey respondents were interested in discussing, and they are all timely in their own ways. Finally, although the topics are substantively different, they all present an opportunity to investigate the value of autonomy, how and when it cuts against other values, when our autonomy rights are violated, and how public policy should safeguard them.
I was very grateful to have this kind of opportunity to have these conversations in a context where I knew I shared something with all other participants even though we are in many different stages and paths in life.—D Team Participant
How do I sign up?
Sign-up for Fall 2023 D Teams is open from August 8 to September 7, 2023. Register today and help us build a better democracy, one conversation at a time.