Community or Disunity?

The Benson Center’s 2020-21 theme, posed both as disjunction and as a question, hints that the future of our country—our national community—may yet veer in vastly different and hereto unknowable directions. In this presidential election year, a great deal remains open.

What is community? How (and can) community be built? What causes a community to fall apart? Is it possible for communities—local, national, international, and even virtual communities—to maintain cohesion and avoid disunity? How can we as individuals think about our various connections —social, political, geographical, virtual—in ways that facilitate the creation of a common (and communal) future? What is the role of the university, the individual, the society in making that happen? In a contemporary culture overwhelmed by disintegration, and in which the major components of our society—industry, education, religion, government—often work at cross-purposes, the future is uncertain. Over the course of the 2020-21 academic year, the Center will be exploring these and other questions.