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Breaking Through Gridlock: Polarization and Problem Solving

Fall 2019
Freshman - Senior
Class Size: 25
4 Credits per quarter
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How do we move from polarization to mobilization, in order to solve problems in our civic, political, and personal lives? How do we re-frame stories and tactics that embolden and inspire positive results and change? Harvard's Marshall Ganz notes that we must "polarize to mobilize," yet the ultimate goal is to reach solutions. We will examine ways to solve problems around social justice, health, equity, and environmental issues.

This course is named for Jay and Grant's  Breaking Through Gridlock: The Power of Conversation in a Polarized World . We will also use Re-Imagining Change: How to Use Story-based Strategies to Win Campaigns, Build Movements, and Change the World , as well as shorter readings.

"We can respond authentically to people's resistance," Jay and Grant note.  Through workshops, guest speakers, projects, films, and seminars, we will examine central questions and potential solutions that address multiple perspectives. Students will gather skills in effective listening and public visioning strategies for the future. We will examine avenues for change including community advocacy, non-governmental organizations, coalitions, and governmental policy. Students will engage in areas of individual and group interest. Finally, we will consider how arts and other public engagement can inspire civic action.


Fall 2019 Registration

Course Reference Numbers

(4): 10032

Academic details

Preparatory for studies and careers in

Advocacy, law, public policy, writing, civic engagement.

Maximum Enrollment
Class Standing


Time Offered
Schedule Evergreen link
see Schedule Evergreen for detailed schedule

First Meeting

SEM 2 E3109 - Seminar