MAASTRICHT. BridgeEurope, a European organisation that promotes discussion among as diverse a public as possible, feels that people agree with each other far too much and that is not a good thing. A Maastricht branch was set up a month ago.
“Political and social discussions occur far too often within so-called echo chambers: (online) places where people more or less have the same opinion,” says Jan Kleinheinrich, chairman of BridgeEurope in Maastricht and master's student of Public Policy and Human Development. “This needs to change. We want to create a platform that pulls people out of their bubbles.”
Building bridges between diverse points of view, that is what it is about. Kleinheinrich believes that “we must learn to listen to each other again.” According to the originally American organisation (BridgeUSA), the best place to start is at universities, because that is where you will find tomorrow's leaders. “That is why we are looking for participants from all faculties. Through social media, but also personally, by distributing flyers. Our team is very diverse – politically from left to right and from different countries – everyone addresses their own audience. Outsiders are welcome too, but we will initially concentrate on students.”
The Maastricht branch will have its first debate next Monday. Kleinheinrich: “We are going to start off with a short introduction of about ten minutes, after which there will be a discussion with the audience. The aim is not that everyone agrees with each other at the end of the evening, but that people understand each other’s opinion.”
The debate will take place at UCM on Monday, 18 February at 18:30hrs. The theme is Second Brexit Referendum: A betrayal of democracy?