University Program: Own Your Voice, Change the World
The OpEd Project works with top universities across the nation—Stanford, Yale, NYU, City University of New York and UCSF, among others. Our highly-interactive, energetic program is built around experiential learning and thought leadership: it is designed to share the tools of powerful argument, and to inspire and cultivate a sense of social responsibility by empowering participants to see their potential impact on the world. It is also designed to increase the number of women participating in public debate and contributing to public knowledge. Why is this important? Our national conversation currently reproduces the voices and opinions of only a small fraction of society: mostly white, mostly privileged and overwhelmingly male. The op-ed pages of our nation’s top newspapers and online sites are 85% written by men. What is the cost to society when half of the nation’s best minds and best ideas – women’s minds and women’s ideas – are missing? What would be the return to us all, if we could capture that brain power?
The OpEd Project is unique in its focus on concrete, measurable results. Participants have published commentary in national, regional and local newspapers, as well as online. As a direct result, they have received book contracts and been invited to apply for fellowships, appeared on radio and television, expanded their teaching and research careers, been invited to graduate schools (including Columbia Journalism School), delivered speeches before national audiences, started non-profit organizations, been hired to advise leading news magazines, exposed plagiarism in the college application process, proposed new tax policies, advocated for better privacy laws on the internet, advocated for alternative energy policies, testified before congress, and changed recycling policy in their home town.
We tailor every seminar to the needs of the university's program. Below are the seminar options.
FULL-DAY SEMINAR (7 hours) + one year of access to OpEd Project National Network of Mentor-Editors. The highly-interactive, energetic full day seminar is built on a series of exercises, scenarios and experiential learning around thought leadership, and is designed to make participants think more carefully and more expansively about what they know and why it matters. We explore how to present ideas quickly and powerfully under pressure; the source of credibility; the components of powerful, evidence-based argument; the difference between being “right” and being effective; and strategies for making a greater impact, including how to escape a pigeonhole, how to preach beyond the choir, and the value of seeing your argument as part of a bigger picture—and yourself as part of a larger public conversation. We review techniques and tools of persuasion that appear in some of history’s most powerful arguments (speeches, essays and op-eds that have changed the world), and we discuss strategies for pitching ideas (anywhere). Participants leave with an op-ed draft, and will have ongoing access to OpEd Project resources, events and mentors.
TWO-DAY (FULL + “TRANSLATION”) SEMINAR + one year of access to OpEd Project National Network of Mentor-Editors: The two day seminar combines a full day seminar (see above) with a second day of guided work and hands-on individual feedback, in which we bring one or several OpEd Project mentors to work directly with seminar participants on their op-ed drafts, accompany them in exercises designed to expand the way they think about their particular expertise, and help them “translate” scholarly research into the lingua franca of public debate. The second day, also called our “translation” seminar, gives participants the opportunity to share their ideas and arguments—sketched and drafted in the full seminar, and fleshed out overnight—with each other in a language that is broadly accessible (and perhaps not previously available to them), which serves to foster community among colleagues and cross-pollination of ideas. The goal of this second day is to ensure all participants act on the ideas they generated in the first day, and leave with a solid op-ed which they will submit for publication. Participants will have ongoing access to OpEd Project resources, events and mentors.
CREATING PUBLIC INTELLECTUALS: FELLOWSHIP MODEL: The OpEd Project’s fellowship model is intended for individuals and organizations that are committed to working for bigger results over the course of a year, and it’s goal is to transform women (and in some cases, minority men) academics and professionals with knowledge and expertise that would be of public value into public intellectuals. Participants convene quarterly (or at regular intervals), for a total of four seminars throughout the year: an initial full- or two-day OpEd Project “thought leadership” seminar that begins the fellowship; two mid-year seminars led by OpEd Project staff and Mentor-Editors, which focus on areas of common interest and scholarship and are designed to stimulate cross-pollination of ideas, find connections between participants’ areas of focus and current newshooks, and generate concrete op-ed results; and a final convening to recognize the accomplishments of the participants. In between these quarterly seminars, OpEd Project mentor-editors oversee the group throughout the year, leading weekly (non-obligatory) check-in chat sessions, as well as a monthly conference call designed to encourage and support participants in reaching their goals. Fellowship participants are asked to set individual goals of producing a set number of op-eds during the program year (minimum of one per quarter), with the support of our mentors, to reach an ambitious collective result. By partnering with us in this way, universities and organizations strengthen their internal community of experts, enhance these experts’ voices and contribution to public knowledge, and also increase their institution’s public presence.