This article originally appeared in The New York Times.
How can we repair our public discourse?
Imagine that you’re among a group of college students who want to discuss the big issues of the day. What can be done to bring peace to the Middle East? How can we reduce sexual assaults on campuses? What should be done about immigration?
These questions have the potential to produce rich explorations. But they’re equally likely to devolve into shouting matches that increase anger and mistrust. Is there a way to frame conversations so that people actually listen to one another?
Watching cable TV, reading the comments on news sites, or following social media threads may not be terribly encouraging. But the answer is yes. Better conversations are possible — in fact, they can be facilitated by almost anyone who cares to learn how — but it means giving considerably more thought than we normally do to the kinds of questions we ask and the context in which we ask them.
That’s the lesson to be drawn from an initiative called Ask Big Questions, which has fostered thousands of conversations on college campuses that students say have deepened their understanding of themselves and other students and improved their ability to engage with people who have different perspectives. Read the full post in The New York Times.