Breaking Through Gridlock: Polarization and Problem Solving

Fall
Fall 2020
Olympia
Olympia
Evening
Evening
Freshman-Senior
Freshman–Senior
Class Size: 25
0% Reserved for Freshmen
4
Credits per quarter

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Taught by

creative writing, sustainability, public policy

How do we move from polarization to mobilization, to solve problems in our civic, political, and personal lives? This question is also critical in the lead-up and aftermath to the November 2020 elections, along with many critical societal issues. Each student will be able to customize key assignments to their area of interest. 


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 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. This will allow us to examine our communication strategies and how we can be more effective. Students will gain an acquaintance with theories on how human groups throughout time have formed norms and differences. Students will learn to create "vision statements" and other techniques that allow them to enter a polarized environment and break down gridlock, particularly on a community level. Our text for this work will be Re-Imagining Change: How to Use Story-based Strategies to Win Campaigns, Build Movements, and Change the World.

"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. We will examine avenues for change including community advocacy, non-governmental organizations, coalitions, and governmental policy. Finally, we will consider how arts and other public engagement can inspire civic action.

This course is designed to complement topics and schedules of several 8-to-12 credit Evening Weekend Programs.


Though the program is designed to be taught remotely, meaning that we will use Zoom and Canvas for our time together and critique work, we will have a close, engaged learning community. Students will have the opportunity to talk to one another in small groups, and to have one-on-one conversations with me (Nancy) as the quarter progresses. Evergreen has long been based on a model of engaged learning communities, and this is what we will share with you.

 

To successfully participate in this program, students will need internet access. Students can expect our remote teaching to be around 4 hours of synchronous (scheduled) coursework per week, using Zoom and Canvas. Students will have access to alternatives to synchronous (in person or remote) participation if conditions require.

4

Credits per quarter

Online learning:
  • Complete Online Learning - This offering delivers all of its instruction online.
Freshman-Senior
Class Standing: Freshman–Senior
Class Size: 25
0% Reserved for Freshmen
Evening

Scheduled for: Evening

Final schedule and room assignments:

First meeting:

Monday, October 5, 2020 - 6:00 pm
SEM 2 A1105 - Lecture

Located in: Olympia