Friday, April 21, 2017

Harvard Community Dialogues

dialogue Seeing that a deep need persists in the Harvard community and beyond for spaces of trust, curiosity, and low-risk engagement with others on politically divisive issues, this spring HNMCP continued to innovate programming through its political dialogue initiative by offering a series of Harvard Community Dialogues.

These dialogues convened students, staff, faculty and community members from around the university and wider community for conversations related to important issues in the public square. Our hope is that participants and facilitators alike will gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and possibilities of political dialogue.

As political polarization in the United States deepens in the wake of the 2012 and 2016 presidential elections, many are wondering how to bridge the growing divides in family, classroom, faith communities, and online forums. Dialogue that involves a range of perspectives can seem futile, or worse, can seem to exacerbate divisions. HNMCP began to develop its political dialogue initiative 2015 with the Real Talk series and the formation of the HLSNow Facilitation Corps in 2016. This initiative seeks to convene people with differences and facilitating difficult conversations about issues that cut to the core of identity and belief. As we experiment with various formats and build skill capacity among students and staff, we hope to grow this initiative much more broadly.

HNMCP hosted three dialogue sessions as part of this spring’s Harvard Community Dialogue series: “What is America? A Community Dialogue on National Identity and Immigration,” “The Press: Sensationalism, Ratings, and Responsibility,” and “Parties, Politics, and the Future of Healthcare in the United States”.

More broadly, HNMCP’s work has expanded its pedagogical focus on the theory and practice of facilitation. HNMCP offered “The Lawyer as Facilitator” workshop to students and is also in the process of publishing the facilitation resource video “Police-Community Dialogue.” HNMCP is also currently collaborating with HLS Admissions and the Dean of Students Office to facilitate dialogue on identity and lawyering for admitted students from traditionally underrepresented identities or groups. The first of these sessions, entitled Diversity Days @ HLS, took place at the Admitted Students weekend in March and April 2017.