Plurality Project

A Student-Led Initiative Sponsored by the HAC. Hannah Arendt was a fierce defender of free and open political speech. In perhaps her most direct defense of free speech, Arendt writes: “Only in the freedom of our speaking with one another does the world, as that about which we speak, emerge in its objectivity and visibility from all sides.”

Plurality Project

About the Project

A premise of Arendtian thinking is an embrace of plurality. Plurality is the condition of speech and action by which we appear to others as ourselves in the world. Plurality is the fact that people live in their own way, worship different gods, pursue different ideals, and associate with different people. Amidst such plurality, political life is where we come together in common, embracing what unites us amidst our differences. Plurality is thus a conditition of politics, since politics is a discussion amongst a plurality of individuals with different opinions, not a search for a single truth. To do away with plurality would be to do away with the public realm of politics altogether.
 
In line with her recognition of plurality, Hannah Arendt was a fierce defender of free and open political speech. In perhaps her most direct defense of free speech, Arendt writes: “Only in the freedom of our speaking with one another does the world, as that about which we speak, emerge in its objectivity and visibility from all sides.”

 The Hannah Arendt Center's Plurality Project begins with Arendt’s uncompromising defense of plurality and free speech as a foundation for democratic politics. Politics is never about truth. It is about opinion. Free speech matters because it exposes all of us to opinions different from our own. In doing so, free speech expands our understanding and experience of the world. In encountering unexpected, disagreeable, and uncomfortable opinions, our imagination of the world must change, and so too our thinking. We must either alter our own opinion, embrace a new opinion, or reaffirm our old opinion. In each of these cases, we embrace an opinion that is more fully consonant with the plurality of the world as a whole. The Arendt Center sponsors multiple student led programs dedicated to free expression. We welcome students from all backgrounds to join the conversation! Sign up below, and the group will be in touch! SIGN ME UP!

 The Project Includes:

Tough Talks Lecture Series

The Tough Talks Lecture Series of the Hannah Arendt Center at Bard College is a student run initiative embodying the college’s motto as “A Place to Think.” Tough Talks aims to consider and make present opinions and perspectives that are too often invisible on campus. The goals is to provide a forum for explicitly unpopular views that some might deem unpleasant, uncomfortable, and unsafe.
No topic or opinion is off limits for the Tough Talks lecture series. We will invite speakers to our campus to engage us with ideas that largely go against the status quo. In doing so we will give voice to discordant views and also insist that students experience and engage arguments that challenge their own prejudices and convictions. This is an initiative to not only put a face to and hear a fully stimulating and articulate viewpoint that challenges our own ideas, but it is also, most importantly, an initiative for our community to articulately challenge and hold accountable those individuals and their ideas that some might say are offensive and perhaps even, dangerous. “Our thinking,” writes Hannah Arendt in “Truth and Politics,” runs “from place to place, from one part of the world to another, through all kinds of conflicting views.” The freedom of speech is what allows divergent opinions that comprise our common world to emerge in their visibility from all sides. Free speech, Arendt reminds us, is not simply an individual liberty to say what one thinks. More importantly, the freedom to speak brings the different and conflicting opinions and viewpoints to appear in public; it makes the world visible in its plurality.
 

Dorm Room Conversations

The Dorm Room Conversations initiative is a program designed to promote what many people came to Bard for in the first place- having difficult conversations about difficult topics. In recent years, these difficult conversations have become harder and harder to have and dissent from the status quo- whether it be Bard College or Liberty University- has become taboo. This trend has led many people to exit the realm of political discussion altogether, rather than face ostracization or exclusion.  DRC will host small group discussions in which we invite people who disagree to come together hold conversations with a small group. These conversations will involve 6 people- two hosts who disagree, and three people invited by each host to participate in the discussion. Topics may be as wide-ranging as race relations, or as specific as Title IX legislation. Our goal is to highlight the plurality of ideas which exists within the student body, and to encourage students to freely speak their mind, even if what they have to say may be unpopular. We encourage students to come to the conversation prepared with researched materials, thoughtful ideas, respect, and above all, an open mind. If you have an interesting topic in mind, please click HERE. We will get back to you soon and help facilitate a Dorm Room Conversation.