In March, a JMU delegation consisting of Dr. Heather Coltman, Dr. Mike Davis, Dr. Besi Muhonja, Neil Marrin, Dr. Angela DiCosola, and myself traveled to Kigali to build new relationships with Rwandan higher education institutions and non-profit organisations. Meetings often began with our JMU team asking the new partner for ways they thought we might best engage with them. We asked questions such as “What would you like to see in a partnership with us?” and “What is important to your institution?”
Each school and organization struggles with challenges slightly different from the next in this young and rapidly expanding country. However, the need for debate, deliberation, and talking through ‘big problems’ came up in every meeting. Rwanda has a rich and practiced history of reconciliation that requires a ‘coming to the table’ in which participants work to understand the other person’s choices as separate from the innate value of that person. This cultural value on deliberating decisions fits perfectly with the goals of Ethical Reasoning in Action.
We were excited to promote the Eight Key Questions as one of the best solutions for engaging students in ethical reasoning discussions without the need for extensive backgrounds in philosophy or debate. A Dean we met with took one look at a purple 8KQ cards and said “Wow! We should use this today in our class discussion.” The simplicity of the cards allows for rapid deployment in already set curricula, and provides professors with the ability to tailor discussions to meet their time constraints and level of interest in ethical questions. Our partners were excited by the possibility of diving deeper into case studies, ethical debates, and maybe even hosting a Kigali Ethics Slam.
To our new partners and friends in Rwanda, we say murakoze cyane for allowing us to visit your schools and institutions to discuss future partnerships and the 8KQ! We hope to return to the beautiful land of 1,000 hills soon. This time we promise to bring more purple cards!
Written by Olivia Stephens, Engagement Fellow in the President’s Office.