‘Bridge builder’ Mónica Guzmán will deliver the Common Reading Lecture

The author of "I Never Thought of It That Way: How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times" will speak to the Elon community and host workshops on Thursday, Sept. 21 and Friday, Sept 22.

Monica Guzman, author of "I Never Thought of It That Way."Bridge builder, journalist and author Mónica Guzmán will deliver the Common Reading Lecture on Thursday, Sept. 21 in Alumni Gym at 7 p.m. Her book, “I Never Thought of It That Way: How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times,” was selected as the Elon University 2023-24 Common Reading.

Her lecture on Thursday is titled “Curious Questions, Sparking Conversation.” The next day, Guzmán will lead workshops with faculty, staff and students in LaRose Student Commons.

Guzmán is senior fellow for public practice at Braver Angels, the nation’s largest cross-partisan grassroots organization working to depolarize America; founder and CEO of Reclaim Curiosity, an organization working to build a more curious world; co-founder of the award-winning Seattle newsletter The Evergreen; and adviser for Starts With Us and the Generations Over Dinner project.

A Mexican immigrant, Latina and dual U.S./Mexico citizen, she lives in Seattle with her husband and two children and is a proud liberal daughter of conservative parents.

During a Zoom conversation with Elon faculty and staff in August, Guzmán said her parents were her biggest inspiration for the book.

Coming from a very tight-knit, very politically divided family was instrumental in the writing of this book as she has first-hand experience in having passionate debates with people she loves and respects.

A Democrat who voted for Joe Biden in the last election, Guzmán had unfiltered, intense conversations with her parents who are both Donald Trump supporters. When she would talk to her friends, most of whom are liberal, about her parents’ right-wing leaning, it was met with judgment, which she would take personally.

“That became a big part of my inspiration, taking that personally,” Guzmán said. She became obsessed with studying the political divide and why our political strength is defined by how much we attack the other side.

“I dug up a lot of research and a bunch of it is quite chilling because it shows us that people on either side of the divide assume things about the other side that tend not to be true,” Guzmán said. “We’re not seeing each other for who we really are and we’re not seeing the actual issues that divide us.”

Tickets are available now for Guzmán’s lecture at elon.edu/boxoffice. Admission is $15 or an Elon ID.

Guzmán is the first guest of the Elon University Speaker Series this year. Visit the series website for more information.