[Under development: Please explore, but do not publicize until we launch in April]
In the wake of the 2016 presidential election, Americans are discovering that they are even more deeply divided than they had realized. Cross partisan hatred is dividing families, creating angry and intimidating mobs on social media, and leading to an “us versus them” attitude that prevents the sort of compromises upon which democracy depends. This rising polarization motivates people to accept the worst possible version of the other side’s beliefs, and the most flattering version of their own. These visions are distorted and counterproductive, particularly in universities where the clash of ideas—occurring within a community that shares an overarching identity–could be so conducive to learning and growth.
The Viewpoint Diversity Experience is designed to foster mutual understanding within educational settings in order to prepare students for democratic citizenship and success in the politically diverse workplaces they will soon inhabit.
Rather than jumping into politics right away, which would likely lead to partisan reactions and defensive thinking, we’ll guide you along a six-step journey that introduces politics at steps four and five. We start the journey by cultivating the right mindset—showing you why viewpoint diversity will make you smarter, and then helping you cultivate an open mind and open heart by reminding you of ancient wisdom from many cultures urging us all to be more humble and loving, less judgmental and self-righteous. We then cover just enough psychology to show you the tricks your mind will play on you when you meet people who disagree with you. At the end of the journey, you will have a much greater ability to understand people who don’t vote the way you do. You’ll be better able to enjoy talking with them, to learn from them, and to teach them. These skills will make you a better student, leader, employee, and citizen.
While the Viewpoint Diversity Experience is designed for college students, it may be useful in high schools as well as in companies, religious congregations, and other organizations that are experiencing internal conflicts over politics. Resources from the Viewpoint Diversity Experience can be used over the course of a several hour training session or during a semester-long course. We’ll be developing teaching materials over the next few months; we’re just getting started. But check it out yourself—you can get a taste of the “experience” in as little as two hours if you’re willing to watch few videos and read a few essays. Or, if you are a teacher, professor, or diversity trainer, you can ask your class to do one or two steps before each class meeting.
Click below to get started on the journey!