Ask Big Questions is unique in that we help our partners build stronger communities by leveraging the resources they already have: their students, faculty, and staff. Our team of trainers and consultants works with each partner campus or organization to identify settings and populations where reflective conversations can thrive—in dorms and Greek houses, on service trips, in interfaith encounters, and a wide range of other communities and sub communities.
We then design a series of small-group reflective conversations and train students to lead them with their peers. Conversations feature an array of communication and learning modes including: personal journaling; small-group conversation; large-group interpretive discussion; exercises involving movement; and interactive activities for communal reflection. Assessment and feedback is woven into the conversation design, so student leaders can learn and grow in their facilitation practice, and we can understand our impact and refine our approach.
Our methodology rests on four main pillars, which we call: Ask-Share-Learn-Do.
Our work leads to positive change—in both individual and group behaviors. Students who participate in Ask Big Questions conversations report significant, lasting increases in their ability to listen, to understand their own values and beliefs and those of others, and to demonstrate the skills and attributes of empathetic, engaged citizenship. They build the trust necessary to work on common problems in more civil, productive ways. And the students who lead these conversations report even more significant gains in their abilities to facilitate group work, to strategize creatively, and to design productive approaches to community challenges.