Building a stronger campus community

Going to college means being part of a larger community – a community that is often different from the one in which we grew up. Faculty, staff and students meet people from all over the world. They learn about cultural, religious, political, human and societal differences and similarities.   Professors encourage open discussions about civility and understanding, but what happens when those qualities are missing in a community? 

The University of Northern Iowa launched a new campus and community project last year, "Standing on Higher Ground," to examine civility, understanding and the impact to the community when those qualities are missing. 

The project, now referred to as "Reaching for Higher Ground," strives to engage the campus community and surrounding communities in a multi-disciplinary discussion of a complex issue, while building a stronger campus community.

"UNI's Reaching for Higher Ground project aims to engage students and community members in civil dialogue and critical thinking by examining critical issues from multiple perspectives," said Steve Carignan, assistant vice president and executive director of the Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center.

Each academic year, the campus will be invited to participate in programs focusing on a core theme. This year’s theme is "Reaching for Higher Ground: Community after 9/11." A series of signature events is planned for the fall to promote conversation around the Sept. 11 attacks, while honoring those lost, the survivors and discussing the impact to U.S. foreign and domestic policies.

 "'Community After 9/11'" allows individuals an opportunity for self-reflection and education about societal factors and differences that may unite and divide us at times, but in the end, define us as a community,” said Carignan.

The five signature events for this year's Reaching for higher Ground project include a Flag Planting Remembrance; a performance titled "Remembrance: 9/11 - Ten Years Later;" a photography exhibit by Joel Meyerowitz; a faculty panel reflecting on why 9/11 happened; and a documentary film from 11 different filmmakers, each from a different country, and their perspectives of 9/11.

For more information about Reaching For Higher Ground and the "Community After 9/11" fall events, visit

Below: Photos from the Joel Meyerowitz exhibition