Dialogue: The Challenge of Crossing Divides

Our country is currently experiencing what feels like for many a deepening and widening of social and political divides.  The effects for these divisions are being experienced within and between individuals and groups at all levels — in our families, our schools, and other institutions, across our communities, states and country.   It is becoming increasingly more difficult for good, well-intentioned people coming from different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives to  communicate across differences in ways that enable understanding rather than misunderstanding, tolerance rather than intolerance, hope rather than cynicism.

In this workshop, Philip Thomas, born and raised in Goshen, will be introducing dialogue and the importance of taking a “dialogic approach” to bridge the divides that separate us in our community and to enable more inclusive ways for addressing the challenges we must face together.  This workshop will focus on the following questions:

  • What is dialogue and why is it important?
  • When is it needed?   If not possible, what alternatives do we have?
  • What are the conditions and process considerations for achieving effective results?
  • What are some examples of innovative methodologies that could be relevant for local use?

Philip Thomas has spent the last 25 years supporting change processes in a number of highly polarized contexts across the globe (over 20 countries spanning 5 continents).  Much of his work has focused on helping create the conditions for enabling divided war-torn societies to work together on reconstructing the social fabric through long-term dialogue processes.   Together with his colleague, Bettye Pruitt, he wrote the book Democratic Dialogue: A Handbook for Practitioners, a joint publication of the United Nations and the Organization of American States.  This book is available in five different languages and can be downloaded at no cost on his website d3associates.net.

This workshop is free and open to anyone interested.    We would appreciate RSVP in order to have a sense of how many will be participating.
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