Next on WPSU's 'Digging Deeper': Guiding tough, honest conversations

March 20, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State President Eric J. Barron will highlight how a Penn State undergraduate center explores difficult topics through facilitated dialogue during the next episode of WPSU Penn State’s “Digging Deeper” on Sunday, March 24.

Barron will welcome Laurie Mulvey, executive director of World in Conversation and assistant teaching professor of sociology, and Deborah Guerrero, student dialogue facilitator, to discuss the World in Conversation Center, their recent “Day of Dialogue” event, and the importance of facilitated dialogue. 

WPSU’s “Digging Deeper” will air at 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. on WPSU-TV.

World in Conversation looks to initiate dialogues that expand perspectives and invite greater understanding on contentious topics. Each year, undergraduate facilitators lead more than 3,000 face-to-face dialogues with more than 8,000 of their peers at the University Park campus.

Mulvey said encouraging people with different positions and perspectives to think together helps build the very fabric of society.

“Most people in the world retract in the face of conflict, but constructive conflict is the source of our creativity, vitality and constructive problem-solving abilities,” she said. “In the face of extremism and violence in all parts of our world, building real connections between people is not just a ‘nice’ thing to do; it actually moderates extreme views and de-escalates destructive conflict in the process.”

In addition to facilitating local dialogues, World in Conversation has led discussions with students around the world, including in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, China, Israel, Palestine, Pakistan, Egypt and Qatar. Each facilitator goes through more than 200 hours of training.

Student-led dialogues have been crucial to creating opportunities for people at University Park with divergent views to think together meaningfully, according to Mulvey.

“Student facilitators illustrate that this role need not be reserved for an elite, professionalized, highly paid group of individuals,” she said. “Just like any one of us can learn first aid, we can learn foundational facilitation skills that will allow many more conversations to happen — and to happen more effectively.”

Visit the WPSU website for more information and to watch archived episodes.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 01, 2019