Diversity, Equity & Social Justice

How to Have Fearless Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times

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In the vastly divided times of today’s political landscape, conflict between families, friends and loved ones is on the rise. While it may seem easier to sweep conflict under the rug, addressing issues head-on can help overcome tension and leads to better communication between people. Time, attention, parity, containment and embodiment are five keys to having tough conversations, according to author Mónica Guzmán.

In this seminar, experts discuss how to overcome fear in divided times, how to better understand and connect with those whose opinions and beliefs vastly differ from our own, when to let go and when to confront disconnects, and the importance of trust in rife arguments.

The panel features Sangita Shresthova, director of research at Civic Paths Group at USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and Mónica Guzmán, author of I Never Thought of It That Way: How to Have Fearlessly Curious Conversations in Dangerously Divided Times and digital director of Braver Angels. The panel is moderated by Kamy Akhavan, executive director of the USC Center for Political Future (CPF) .

Who Will Benefit

– Those looking to understand how they can better communicate with people who have differing opinions
– Communication and journalism majors seeking deeper insights into how to address difficult topics
– Those hoping to learn how they can cross personal and political divides and find common ground

About Our Featured Faculty

Kambiz “Kamy” Akhavan, former CEO of ProCon.org, the nation’s leading source of nonpartisan research on controversial issues, now leads the Center for the Political Future (CPF) at USC. As the executive director, Akhavan oversees the operations of all Center components including the Unruh Institute of Politics, the Fellow’s Program, the USC Dornsife Poll, and community and global engagement.

With more than 20 years of experience in bridging divides at national levels, Akhavan’s work has served more than 200 million people, including students at more than 12,000 schools in all 50 states and 100 countries. He has been published and interviewed in textbooks, magazines, television, radio, newspapers and websites including Reuters, Associated Press, Fox News, ABC, Washington Post, NPR, CNN and CBS. Akhavan was born in Iran, grew up in southern Louisiana, and has lived in California for more than 25 years. He holds a BA and MA in History from UCLA.

Sangita Shresthova is the director of research at Civic Paths Group at USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Her focus lies in digital media, civics, participation, the civic imagination and cross-cultural dialogue. Her work has been presented in academic and creative venues around the world including the Schaubuehne (Berlin), the Other Festival (Chennai), the EBS International Documentary Festival (Seoul). The project taps the civic imagination (our collective vision for what a better tomorrow might look like) to help diverse communities harness creativity for real world change. She is working on several forthcoming books, including: Practicing Futures (a guide to harnessing the civic imagination) and the Civic Imagination Casebook.