Improving dialog across the political divide | 4/11/2017 | Staff
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The last presidential election was one of the most heated in recent history. With 2020 rapidly approaching and political divisions running even deeper—if that's even possible—you might find yourself wondering, "What good does a political discussion even do?"

Rachel Wahl, an assistant professor in the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education and Human Development, is out to answer that question.

Wahl - Studies - Ideas - Dialog - Activism

Wahl studies how ideas spread through dialog and activism. Her work has brought her to the heart of the nation's most heated debates, including conversations between police and people of color, and conversations between voters supporting President Trump and former presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton. Most recently, her research has focused on how people learn from each other across deep political divides.

With political polarization on the rise throughout the country, Wahl's research is more relevant than ever. She was recently selected for a fellowship from UVA's Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, where she will co-chair the Colloquy on Culture and Formation, a program of inquiry into moral and political formation that explores the development of children, leaders and citizens. She also received a 2019 fellowship from the National Academy of Education and Spencer Foundation to pursue her research on dialog.

Wahl - Project - Grant - Spencer - Foundation

Wahl's latest project, funded by a separate grant from the Spencer Foundation, focuses specifically on college campuses. This fall, Wahl will observe weekly discussion sessions between politically diverse students and conduct approximately 60 in-depth interviews with students, hoping to better understand the benefits and the limits of dialog. Students interested in participating in this program can apply here. Applications are due Sept. 1.

We caught up with Wahl to learn more about dialog—and how we can all work to cultivate healthy dialog on college campuses and in our own lives.

Q - Dialog

Q. What exactly is "deliberative dialog?"

A. "Deliberation" usually refers to reasoned arguments about a...
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