After using this approach in my classroom, I am now more willing, and more able, to engage students in meaningful conversations about potentially contentious issues. Whereas I used to nod toward things like homosexuality in religious life, interfaith marriage, or the role of government in reproduction, now I build these conversations into the class so students can learn to speak about their experiences, and so they learn to listen and learn from those with whom they might disagree.
Dr. Jill DeTemple, Religious Studies Faculty
Southern Methodist University, Texas
The highlight for me was the interconnectedness of the participants’ views, mutual respect, and range of experiences within the group
I ran for my local school board in 2018 and was elected. I use the skills in our meetings, whether I’m chairing the meeting or not. This makes the meetings much more productive. We don’t go over the same topics over and over again.
Misty Stoll, School Board Trustee
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Essential Partners teaches people how to build strong community bonds across differences of values, beliefs, and identities.
“If everyday Americans don’t talk about issues as important as this one,” writes Essential Partners co-director Katie Hyten, “how can we expect a better national conversation? How can we ask more of the people who represent us?”