Global Neighborhood begins year by learning to disagree

Participants in the first Global Neighborhood House dinner modeled civil discourse while talking about contentious issues.

The Global Neighborhood hosted its first House Dinner of the 2016-17 school year on Tuesday, Sept. 6 in Lakeside Dining Hall. A large and enthusiastic crowd of more than 200 students, faculty, and staff showed up to dine on Southern cuisine and to participate in the evening’s program, “The Art (and Value) of Talking with People you Disagree With.”

<p><br />Professor L.D. Russell talks with a student at the first Global Neighborhood House Dinner.</p>

The event was led by the two Global faculty in residence: Jennifer Zinchuk, assistant professor of English and Glenn Scott, associate professor of communications. Scott framed the discussions by speaking briefly about the history and value of free speech and expression in the United States and globally.  He affirmed that free speech is a necessary part of the search for truth and serves as a safeguard to democracy, as well as a safety valve for dissent. Zinchuk presented practices of good conversation, which include listening, pauses, self-reflection and empathy.  She also offered some helpful suggestions for phrases to use when expressing disagreement, like “I hear you, but in my experience…”

Participants actively engaged with the topic during the evening. They reflected, wrote about and shared disagreements they had with family members or other people in the past.  Later attendees discussed these situations and role-played some techniques to converse while disagreeing.

<p>Global Neighborhood residents enthusiastically participate in a discussion of civil discourse.</p>

This is the fourth year that the Global Neighborhood has hosted House Dinners.  The Neighborhood Association’s theme this year is, “The Arts without Borders.” The next dinner will be held Tuesday, Oct. 4. Ahmed Fadaam, assistant professor of Communications, will speak about art in Iraq.