The SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University is searching for qualified candidates for a Dialogue & Debate Director to lead a new university debate initiative. The Director will lead and design the new initiative to promote the virtues of debate across different perspectives at Johns Hopkins University, and will support the Institute's other efforts to strengthen global democracy through informed, inclusive dialogue.
About SNF Agora Institute:
The SNF Agora Institute, founded in 2017, is a multi-disciplinary academic and public forum dedicated to strengthening global democracy by improving and expanding civic engagement and inclusive dialogue, and by supporting inquiry that leads to real-world change. By building integrated partnerships with scholars, practitioners, students, and the public, we use research to identify and sharpen strategic choices that members of the public and civic and political stakeholders around the world can make to realize the promise of democracy.
About the University Debate Initiative:
There is widespread concern that Americans, and others living in democracies around the world, are losing the capacity to engage each other productively across different backgrounds and perspectives. Meanwhile, research has shown that university campuses have become dominated by individual speakers rather than events that involve dialogue across competing views on policy issues. At a moment when discourse seems poisoned by affective polarization and a fragmented news and social media landscape, colleges and universities have a unique opportunity to model for students – at the time in their lives when they are maturing into their identities as democratic citizens – the habits and the virtues of reasoned debate and dialogue across difference.
To this end, the Institute is launching a new university debate initiative, with programming set to commence in Fall 2022. The centerpiece of the initiative will be a series of debates on cross-cutting issues hosted at the university's Baltimore and Washington, D.C. campuses. The events will be branded and held live in front of an audience, COVID-19 restrictions permitting. The initiative seeks to place a premium on identifying points of agreement in the debates, and on intensive collaboration with students across our campuses in the development and execution of the series.
The debate series is expected to include two marquee public debates (one per semester) and six additional debates throughout the year. The marquee debates will feature nationally recognized speakers, with attendance expected to be approximately 300-500 attendees. The smaller-scale debates are intended to be student-facing with an audience of approximately 100 attendees from the Hopkins community.
Specific Duties & Responsibilities:
The SNF Agora Dialogue & Debate Director will lead this initiative, coordinating the planning, design, and implementation of the series, and provide expertise and guidance to student and faculty partners, including a dedicated student committee. Among their duties, the Dialogue & Debate Director will:
Report directly to the SNF Agora Deputy Director and responsible for leading and overseeing the debate series from content creation to ensuring proper execution and coordination of all debates and associated events
Design, develop and guide the structure and format of the debate series, including two marquee public debates per year and several smaller-scale debates
Identify and develop best practices for the execution of the debates, including through the use of emergent technologies and systems
Thoughtfully identify and recruit speakers of high-caliber for the marquee events, such as current and former top government officials, members of Congress, national media personalities, nationally and internationally recognized civic leaders and renowned subject-matter experts, with the goal to advance the strategic mission of the debate series
Collaborate with key university stakeholders and across various departments within the University, working in close partnership with the Office of the President, Homewood Student Affairs and University Special Events; facilitate relationships with university leadership and key stakeholders to brainstorm and conceptualize the debate series
Create debate content that facilitates audience engagement and engenders fascinating conversations with senior-level attendees and high-profile speakers; foster audience and speaker engagement on vital issues affecting our democracy
Moderate the marquee debates, bringing a high-level of expertise that allows for mutual conversation and evokes interesting dialogue
For the smaller-scale debates, moderate or identify outside moderators or guide students' moderation, and serve as student mentor
Orchestrate and oversee debate set-up and production, ensuring all elements of the series are executed at a high level of professionalism; oversee event and production staff and manage event day set-up and post-production breakdown
Co-develop and coordinate marketing campaigns with University communications staff, Institute staff, and Homewood Student Affairs
Represent the university's debate initiative to distinguished speakers, attendees, and the community as this is a public facing position; serve as the primary liaison to high-profile speakers who participate in the initiative;
Use independent judgement to develop content, choose speakers and utilize resources; in partnership with the Assistant Director of Finance, allocate a six-figure annual operating budget in support of the debate initiative
Lend expertise and collaborate on other SNF Agora events, including but limited to developing programming aimed at fostering inclusive dialogue, including ideating, planning, and producing
Exercise independent judgement and work with limited supervision/direction
Serve as a resource to students and faculty across the university interested in promoting dialogue and debate in their own courses and elsewhere on campus
Perform other duties as assigned in furtherance of the Institute's mission
Minimum Qualifications (Mandatory):
Bachelor's Degree in related field
Four years related experience
Advanced degree may substitute for required experience, to the extent permitted by the JHU equivalency formula.*
*JHU Equivalency Formula: 18 graduate degree credits may substitute for one year of experience. Additional related experience may substitute for the required education on the same basis. For jobs where equivalency is permitted, up to two years of non-related college course work may be applied towards the total minimum education/experience required for the respective job.
** Applicants who do not meet the posted requirements but are completing their final academic semester/quarter will be considered eligible for employment and may be asked to provide additional information confirming their academic completion date.
Applicants from a variety of backgrounds are encouraged to apply. It is desirable that candidates have:
7-10 years of experience in policy debate, public speaking, media, or another related field
Experience in debate and dialogue, including knowledge of best practices in the design and implementation of debates
Demonstrated commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, and an ability to work with diverse populations
Strong oral and written communications skills
Demonstrated experience in the art of debate and facilitating a dynamic dialogue
Experience moderating debates with senior leaders from government and civil society
Experience coordinating major event planning
Demonstrated commitment to the promotion of dialogue across different backgrounds and perspectives
The ability to work with diverse populations
The ability and passion to mentor undergraduate students and teach them the values and skills of debate
Special Knowledge, Skills & Abilities:
Experience moderating high-caliber events with senior-level professionals from government and civil society
Experience working in the media or broadcasting, for example serving as a news anchor or correspondent
Demonstrated experience/skills in the art of rhetoric
Classified Title: Communications Associate Working Title: Dialogue & Debate Director Role/Level/Range: ATP/04/PD Starting Salary Range: Commensurate with experience Employee group: Full Time Schedule: M-F, 8:30 am - 5:00 pm Exempt Status: Exempt Location: Hybrid/Homewood Campus Department name: SNF Agora Institute Personnel area: School of Arts & Sciences
The successful candidate(s) for this position will be subject to a pre-employment background check.
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