Student Emma Buchanan and I have an op-ed published in the Roanoke Times titled Making Frenemies: Virginia Tech project aims to facilitate more civil discourse among the utterly opposed.
This piece shares our preliminary findings from a pilot we ran on the issue of immigration with VT students and other affiliates this past May. I am looking forward to continuing the Frenemies Project, as the outcomes of this initial workshop suggest that bringing people with strongly opposing opinions on an issue together for facilitated dialogue can increase their empathy and understanding. The experience did not seem to fundamentally change their opinions on the issue, but did help them to appreciate each other’s humanity, which may create opportunities for policy compromises.
As discussed in the article, the workshop featured a short role-play simulation exercise to facilitate perspective-taking and facilitate tough yet constructive and respectful dialogue.