As the Blackburn Institute has grown over the years, one of the changes to the curriculum that has been implemented is the addition of monthly small group discussions with the new student class.

The purposes of these meetings are:

  • To build smaller communities within the larger class as we grew to a class size of 50 students in 2019;
  • To practice skills necessary for constructive dialogue;
  • To establish trust in a more intimate setting than allowed by full-group meetings; and
  • To learn more about the Blackburn values through invited guests’ experiences.

These meetings are structured around the four Blackburn values with one addressed each month in September (“facilitating a diversity of opinion”), October (“networking through the generations”), November (“being called to action”), and February (“instilling a lifetime commitment)”. To reinforce these messages, Advisory Board members are invited to participate in the October meetings and Fellows are invited to participate in the February meetings.

At the start of each fall semester, new students were assigned to a group that meets once a month over the course of the semester (September, October, and November) and then one additional time in the spring semester (February). These groups meet on the first Thursday of the month, the following Wednesday, the following Tuesday, and the following Monday, with a staff member facilitating discussions and activities.