The University of St. Thomas

Common Ground


Finding Common Ground

…as we work together to build a program and a profession, which more strongly articulate a commitment to social justice.

1. We will recognize that no single voice/view has a monopoly on the truth. We will remind ourselves that solutions to our challenges will emerge from dialogue that embraces diverse perspectives.

2. We will not envision ourselves or anyone as ‘having all the answers.’ No one person/group will judge itself alone to be possessed of enlightenment or spurn others as wrong or misguided.

3. We will test all ideas/proposals for their truth, value and potential impact on our program, on our students and on the clients they will serve. This is our responsibility as ethical social work educators.

4. We will presume that those with whom we disagree are acting with good intentions. We will extend civility, courtesy and genuine effort to understand their concerns. We will not diminish nor trivialize their ideas or concerns with labels, abstractions or blanket terms (such as she/he ‘just doesn’t get it’, ‘is a sellout’, ‘has been led astray’, ‘is misguided’, etc). Instead, we will embrace the complexity of the realities we face and examine their various and multiple dimensions.

5. We will put the best possible construction on differing positions, addressing their strongest points rather than seizing upon the most vulnerable aspect in order to discredit them. We will detect the valid insights and legitimate worries that may underlie even questionable arguments.

6. We will be cautious in ascribing motives. We will not impugn another’s motives, loyalties, opinions or comprehension. We will not rush to interpret disagreements as conflicts of starkly opposing principles rather than as differences in degree or in prudential judgment about the relevant facts.

7. We will embrace the realities of our institutional cultures, not by simple defiance or by naïve acquiescence, but acknowledging both their valid achievement and real dangers.