Blue and YouFacilitated conversations between youth and law enforcement officers to address conflicts before they escalate into violence.

“Blue and You,” a forum to bring the community together with police to talk about divisive issues in a safe environment, was initiated by Brian N. Williams, an associate professor of public administration in the UGA School of Public and International Affairs. Williams turned to the Fanning Institute to develop a model for the program.

The initial forum, held in April 2016, brought together law enforcement officials from the Athens-Clarke County and UGA police departments, the Clarke County Sheriff’s Department and Clarke County School District, and youth from area youth development organizations, including the Boys and Girls Clubs of Athens.

Prior to the forum, Fanning faculty members trained 25 local high school and UGA students to serve as moderators. The model for the forum is called Reflective Structured Dialogue (RSD), which was created by family therapists to help people who are locked in unproductive communication become open to new pathways for understanding. During this dialogue, all participants are given time to share their perspective on divisive issues and reflect on those personal comments while avoiding debate.

The Fanning Institute received funding from the UGA President’s Venture Fund to help cover the costs of the program.

To learn more about Blue and You, contact Brian N. Williams, 706-542-7816 or bnwillia@uga.edu. To discuss bringing dialogue to your community, contact senior public service associate Raye Rawls, J.D.