Course Encourages Students To Incorporate Service Into Life After Grounds

democracy illustrationPeacemaker or agitator? Advocate or negotiator? There are a variety of ways to influence society and two University of Virginia leaders say mixing methods may create the best outcome.

Ian Solomon, dean of the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, and Melody Barnes, executive director of the Karsh Institute of Democracy, recently told students enrolled in a Democracy and Public Service course to be open to all methods of influencing their communities.

“It’s a false choice to be one or the other. Every good peacemaker is advocating for changes along the way. There is never just one bucket to draw from,” Solomon said. “For me, it’s important that action is aligned with my values.”

Solomon, who served in the U.S. Senate as legislative counsel to then-Sen. Barack Obama and as the executive director of the World Bank Group during the Obama administration, said being an advocate for others may mean actively protesting or quietly negotiating.

“I try to find the nuance in things,” he said. “Shades of gray are usually where the truth lies.”

Garrett Hall at Sunset

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