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Project Dialogue

Project Dialogue is a University-wide program that seeks to involve the entire Vanderbilt community in public discourse and reflection connecting classroom learning with larger societal issues. Project Dialogue dinner series give students and faculty an opportunity to engage in conversation on a number of topics around the dinner table over a delicious meal.

Speakers and Artists for Project Dialogue have included: Sandra Bernhard, Naomi Wolf, Cornel West, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Oliver Sacks, Danny Seo, Mary Lucking-Reiley, Neil Howe, Scott Turow, Adrienne Outlaw, John Douglas, Gore Vidal, Barbara Ehrenreich, Al Franken, John Ashcroft, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Elie Wiesel.

Project Dialogue on AnchorLink

Series in Project Dialogue include: Bridge Building, Food for Thought, Science and Religion, and the Shop. Please see the schedules below.

Project Dialogue 2017-2018

Looking for Luke Documentary
Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018
6:30 PM in Benton Chapel

Luke Tang was a well-liked, passionate, and brilliant Harvard sophomore who took his family and friends by surprise when he decided to take his own life. “Looking for Luke” is a short documentary following Luke’s parents, Wendell and Christina, as they attempt to understand why he did this by reading through his journals and talking to his closest friends. As they piece together what happened, they begin to uncover the truth about their son’s death. Luke’s parents have made it their mission to help other parents, particularly Asian parents, identify and understand the signs and signals of depression and other behavioral health disorders that can lead to suicide. The film hopes to extend that mission by raising awareness of depression as an illness, and destigmatizing seeking help for mental health issues. “Looking for Luke” was produced by The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at MGH, directed by Eric I. Lu (Harvard College ’09, HMS ’16), and supported in part by a grant from the American Psychiatric Association’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Minority Fellowship Grant. According to the American Psychological Association, Asian American college students have higher rates of suicidal thoughts than their counterparts. What’s more, cultural stigma often prevents students who are struggling from seeking help. This problem is compounded by a lack of awareness and open conversations about mental health within the Asian American community. 


the Shop

“The Shop” is a unique opportunity for students of color to engage in dialogical exchange of wisdom with pastors, activists, professors, and elders from the greater Nashville community concerning the trending cultural topics that impact the lives of people of color. These conversations will focus on the intersections of Black spirituality, faith, and activism and will give students of color the opportunity to explore faith from different perspectives. In addition, “the Shop” will offer cultural meals from local restaurants owned by persons of color.

Each gathering at “the Shop” features a guest who is able to engage from a pre-selected topic in conjunction with a relevant, trending article from the news and/or social media. Topics will include (but are not limited to): intersections of gender, race, sexuality, spirituality, mental health, faith, activism, the role of the Black Church, and interfaith dialogue. These conversations will help guests and students engage in the constructive work of developing self-awareness and create meaningful dialogue as to how we live moral, ethical, and spiritual lives in the midst of various lived experiences as people of color.

September 13, 12:00pm, OUCRL Fireside Lounge
Rev. Shantell Hinton
Intersections of Faith & Culture

October 18, 12:00pm, OUCRL Fireside Lounge
Pastor John Faison, Sr.
The Relevance of the Black Church

November 15, 12:00pm, OUCRL Fireside Lounge
Dr. Emilie Townes
Gender, Sexuality, & Race

January 17, 12:00pm, OUCRL Fireside Lounge
Rhianna Anthony
Activism as Spiritual Praxis

February 21, 12:00pm, OUCRL Fireside Lounge
Self-Love, Spirituality, & Mental Health

March 21, 12:00pm, OUCRL Fireside Lounge
Dr. Herbert Marbury
Black Masculinity & Spirituality

April 18, 12:00pm, OUCRL Fireside Lounge
Judge Rachel Bell
Politics & Theology

Bridge Building

Speakers engage with students at the dinner table over the question “How can we effectively build relationships that will influence the affairs of the world in ways that are just, inclusive, and compassionate?”

September 26, 5:30pm, OUCRL
Dr. Nahed Artoul Zehr, Faith & Culture Center of Nashville

October 24, 5:30pm, OUCRL
Ms. Candice Lee, Vanderbilt Senior Associate Athletic Director

November 28, 5:30pm, OUCRL
Dr, Imam Ossama Bahloul, Resident Scholar at the Islamic Center of Nashville

February 27, 5:30pm, OUCRL
Trudy Hawkins Stringer, Assistant Professor of the Practice of Ministry, Vanderbilt Divinity School

March 27, 5:30pm, OUCRL
Dr. A.J. Levine, University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies, Vanderbilt Divinity School

Food For Thought

Speakers engage with students at the dinner table over the question “How did you decide to do what you do?”

September 5, 5:30pm, OUCRL
Dr. Donna Ford, Professor of Special Education, Peabody, Vanderbilt


November 7, 5:30pm, OUCRL
Dr. Jaco Hamman, Associate Professor of Religion, Psychology, and Culture

December 5, 5:30pm, OUCRL
Dean Emilie Townes, Dean of the Divinity School, Vanderbilt

January 9, 5:30pm, OUCRL
Dr. Daniel Sharfstein, Professor of Law, Vanderbilt Law School

February 6, 5:30pm, OUCRL
Roberta Robison, Program Coordinator, K.C. Potter Center, Vanderbilt

March 13, 5:30pm, OUCRL
Rabbi Shlomo Rothstein, Campus Chabad Chaplain, Vanderbilt

April 3, 5:30pm, OUCRL
Dr. Issam Eido, Senior Lecturer, Vanderbilt Department of Religious Studies

Science & Religion

This series seeks to explore possible intersections – or lack thereof – between science and religion. Rebekah Austin, a doctoral student in electrical engineering at Vanderbilt, will kick off this series on September 18. Subsequent dates are listed below:

September 18, 5:30pm, OUCRL
Rebekah Austin

February 19, 5:30 pm at OUCRL and 7 pm at Sarratt Cinema
Dr. Michelle Thaller, NASA