About Us

At the Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground, students are united in their desire to learn about themselves and one another. Together, they come alive in pursuit of greater understanding through intellectual discourse, active listening, and friendship. The center advances Dr. Thurman’s philosophy of self-exploration and community building through meaningful and creative shared experiences.

Your campus living room

Imagine walking into a space where, in one area, students are engaged in a heated debate about what kind of macaroni and cheese is best. In another corner, a chorus of cheers erupts as someone slams down a “skip” card while playing Uno. In another, students nobly attempt to sit by themselves but inevitably find themselves in conversations on pop culture, college, and the meaning of life. Welcome to the Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground (HTC).

Whether it’s by playing board games, reading and discussing books, chatting over cups of coffee or tea, or speaking up at forums and panels, students who involve themselves in the HTC will create a community filled with peers from all backgrounds and walks of life. Sure, for some, the HTC is simply a place to take a break between classes or hang out—and if that’s what you need, then use it that way! But the magic of the HTC reveals itself the more you engage it, and we hope you make it your social hub throughout your time at BU. Better yet, consider it your campus living room.

Your home away from home

In the spirit of Dr. Thurman, the HTC provides a space for students to ask and be asked difficult questions about who they are and how they fit in the world. It’s a place for students to learn more about themselves while building lasting relationships with their peers. The HTC can become a home-away-from-home for students where the friends they make can quickly become family.

What we do

Founded by Dean George K. Makechnie in 1986, the HTC has been a source of programs, events, and experiences that foster critical thought, encourage new connections, and provoke conversation on the issues of the day. The conversations vary in range and intensity, covering topics from domestic and international politics, to the history and future of Boston, to more local conversations like the best ways to study for exams at Boston University.

Dr. Howard Thurman believed that the search for common ground is a twofold journey of personal self-exploration and of building community, and that “…meaningful and creative shared experiences between people can be more compelling than all of the faiths, fears, concepts and ideologies that separate them. And, if these experiences can be multiplied and sustained over a sufficient duration of time, then any barrier that separates one person from another can be undermined and eliminated.” The Howard Thurman Center for Common Ground seeks to make those meaningful and creative shared experiences happen for Boston University students.