Socratic Dialogue is blooming everywhere. Recently I posted about the Socrates Cafe movement. Now another story about a Socratic dialogue initiative has come across the wire. Columbia University is sponsoring Socratic conversations. The conversations, which are sponsored by the Gottesman Libraries, 525 W. 120th St., range broadly and probe deeply into the basic challenges of life, as did Socrates’ encounters that launched Western philosophy. Students are engaging in spirited discussions of ideas and issues ranging from “The Pursuit of Happiness” and “Democratic Leadership,” to “Holidays Deconstructed” and “Bullshit” (impelled by a best-selling book by a professor of philosophy at Princeton).
Ronald Gross conducts the sessions, which are based on methods described in his book Socrates’ Way (www.SocratesWay.com). Gross co-chairs the University Seminar on Innovation in Education (www.columbiaseminar.org) and has launched groups to revive meaningful conversation and civic discourse throughout the U.S.and abroad. The conversations are informed by the latest literature which is at hand at each session for reference and follow-up. The conversations have already generated thinking and insights of keen interest to the whole campus community.