iHUM is a required class for freshmen at Stanford. Introduction to the Humanities is a daily morning lecture with the intended purpose to "build an intellectual foundation in the study of human thought, values, beliefs, creativity, and culture." We borrowed this concept for our team at Air. Each month, someone volunteers to moderate a discussions around an essay, article, video, or podcast of their choosing. Everyone is given the change to dig into it individually, and then we come together to discuss as a group. This is not a room for experts, but a table for conversation. It allows us to get to know one another on a different level than a virtual happy hour or a game night (although, we love those too), and hopefully helps us learn a thing or two about the world around us. Encouraged themes
Respect each other We all carry perspectives influenced by a range of life experiences. Respect the opinions of others, regardless of how they may differ from your own. Respect the topic Talking about complex topics is difficult. None of us are experts and we're all here to learn. Speak freely and honestly, but also be cognizant of the fact that you don't have all of the answers...nobody does. We are not experts The moderator and leadership team are not experts in this category. We do not have answers and our job is merely to facilitate questions around the topic at hand. We have done our best to understand the text and it's implications, but we will never take a position of authority. Understand your motivation What do you hope to gain from this conversation? Try to be objective about why you feel a certain way about the topics we're discussing. Pay particularly close attention to any visceral reactions you have towards a subject or opinion, whether positive or negative, and how those may affect your motivations for the discussion. This is not a "solutions" meeting We will discuss a number of topics, we may see some debate over each and we'll continue on with the conversation. We don't need to close out each topic with a definitive answer and in fact, we almost certainly won't. Try focusing on absorbing the perspectives of others, considering how they might influence your own opinions, responding in turn and moving forward with whatever insights you retain.