W&M will host a session on how to talk to people in a polarized political climate

Staff writer

The College of William and Mary’s Government Department thinks it’s time people start having more productive conversations about politics. To that end, it will sponsor a “Civil Discourse in a Polarized Society” session Monday.

“Too often today, we are talking or yelling past each other. Figuring out how to listen and respond in a constructive way is more important than ever,” John McGlennon, a government and public policy professor at the college, wrote in an email. “Political science research is finding increasing evidence of stress on our democratic values. As scholars and teachers, we need to both study the problem and look for solutions.”

Nationally recognized scholar, author and William and Mary alumnus Christopher Phillips will lead the talk on how to have productive conversations about divisive issues.

Phillips is the founder of the nonprofit Democracy Cafe, which has established hundreds of civil discourse groups all over the world including in the United States, Saudi Arabia, Poland, Mumbai, Australia and Japan.

Over the past two years, Americans have been more likely to say it’s “stressful and frustrating” to have political conversations with people they disagree with, according to a 2018 study by the Pew Research Center.

Phillips has led programs at universities all over the country that teach citizens how to engage in productive conversations and better understand the perspectives of others.

A specialist in the Socratic method, his discussion will focus on how to engage with those who hold different political and social views without anger or hostility.

Want to go?

What: “Civil Discourse in a Polarized Society”

When: 5 p.m. March 25

Where: McGlothlin-Street Hall, room 20

Cost: The event is free and open to the public

Martin can be reached at (757)-243-3685, by email at sararose.martin@vagazette.com or on Twitter at @SaraRoseMartin.

Copyright © 2019, The Virginia Gazette
61°