5 Steps to Healing Polarization in the Classroom


5 Steps to Healing Polarization in the Classroom

Insights and Examples
Page Count
64 pages
Publication date
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    About the book

    This practical guide helps teachers and students to foster a learning environment where even the most difficult and divisive issues can be discussed. Examples incorporate the voices and experiences of students.

    Watch a video presentation of the book by one of the authors, prof. Amy Uelmen.

    Given the turmoil on current college campuses, the classroom may seem an unlikely place for healing political polarization.  Amy Uelmen and Michael Kessler clear away the sound bites and culture-war posturing to reveal the transformative potential of the mutual vulnerability that the best teaching brings forward. This book is not wishful academic thinking – it’s a road map shaped by their real-world experience.  Uelmen and Kessler show the vital importance of higher education-- not as a tool for mere job training, but for equipping both faculty and students to push back against what Pope Francis calls the ‘culture of indifference.’  This book is an invaluable teacher’s manual for helping students become skilled professionals who know how to practice dialogue in their academic, economic, and personal lives.

    Robert K. Vischer
    Dean and Mengler Chair in Law, University of St. Thomas School of Law

    Five Steps to Healing Polarization in the Classroom offers easy-to-apply guidelines for teachers who want class discussions to be thoughtful and vulnerable while still being critical. The authors give practical steps to foster a 'hermeneutic of goodwill' which makes space for students to bring their actual viewpoints into the classroom. Depolarization, they argue, doesn't happen when students bracket their commitments but rather when they share them in a structured, supportive environment. This is not just another book about the value of listening and civility, but a helpful guide for educators hoping to unlock the transforming power of dialogue.

    Russell Johnson
    PhD candidate at the University of Chicago Divinity School

    About the author

    Michael Kessler is managing director of the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University, an associate professor of the practice of moral and political theory in the Department of Government, and an adjunct professor of law at Georgetown Law School. His research and writing focus on theology, philosophical and religious ethics, and social, political, and legal theory. Co-edited volumes include the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Political Theology. Kessler received his Ph.D. focusing on religion and moral and political theory from the University of Chicago, and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. His B.A. in theology and philosophy are from Valparaiso University.