Tackling tough social issues is often a minefield in which few instructors wish to tread… and for good reason. From political polarization to the isolation of the global pandemic, a multitude of forces are shaping, and sometimes stifling, our ability to have deep, important conversations in our classes. But it can be done and done successfully.
We talk with Dr. Joseph Zompetti from the School of Communication, who shares ideas about how to structure classroom conversations, face-to-face or virtually, to navigate through divisive discourses. Joe and Jim examine some basic ground rules which can help students engage with controversial ideas and provide a sense of camaraderie with the mutual goal of sharing different perspectives. They explore the idea of classrooms as simulation spaces, where it’s okay to examine the real world without succumbing to the weight of real-world ideology. Joe also shares how he transformed his course on political rhetoric through two divisive presidential elections and what teaching practices he’s embraced during the shift to fully online instruction.
Dr. Zompetti's list, adapted from his book, Divisive Discourse: The Extreme Rhetoric of Contemporary American Politics
Here are some additional resources: