A new forum on campus is inspiring Courageous Community Conversations 4 Change.
Drop by the Lodge on Wednesday night just after dinner and there is a good chance you'll find people having a courageous community conversation for change. The open forum — colloquially referred to as the 4Cs — is a dialogue discussion series intended to create authentic and civil spaces for conversations centered around social justice and politically charged issues.
“Courageous conversations are the conversations you would rather avoid,” says English Teacher Johan Robinson, who leads the program. “They take courage and require you to speak candidly and listen openly, but they are the ones that make the biggest impact.”
The program was conceived late last year by Dr. Cory McCarter, the dean of diversity, equity, and inclusion, after a Pomfret student initiated a school-wide listening session. One by one, for over two hours, students spoke to the school community about the issues they were facing. They talked about discrimination, gender bias, micro-aggressions, and many other concerns.
The impact was so emotional and so eye-opening that the following September, the DEI office announced a new program for students, faculty, and staff to discuss controversial issues in a structured, productive environment. Topics are generated by student suggestions.
4Cs forums are held on Wednesday evenings. In the first session of each month, students and faculty meet separately; during the second session, they meet together. The sessions are led by trained facilitators who pose a question at the start of each dialogue.
To date, the School has held four of five planned sessions for the year, covering a range of topics. In October, facilitators asked: Are phones and technology threatening our community’s social culture? In November: What will be the impact of an All-Gender Dorm on campus? In January: How do our intersectional identities affect our mental health? In February: Does the way you dress impact learning? And in April, members of the community will convene once again to discuss another charged topic: The “N” word. Is it ever appropriate to use? And if so, when?
“We resist change because it’s uncomfortable, leaving us all immovable,” says 4Cs Student Ambassador Charmaine Chinodakufa ’25. “These discussions are designed to help us get unstuck.”
If you would like to learn more about this program, please contact Johan Robinson at email@example.com.