Do you remember a time when you were surrounded by people you didn’t agree with? Or people you felt just didn’t understand your perspective? This is the feeling of many first-year university students, as they enter a much more diverse environment.
Feeling comfortable with differences, and being able to engage with perspectives you don’t agree with, is the goal of the First Year Connect (1YC) program, implemented by Search in partnership with our sister organization, Soliya.
In this episode of Breakthroughs, you’ll hear about how this program uses online facilitated dialogue – what we call VIRTUAL EXCHANGE – to help incoming university students to gain the skills to deal collaboratively with conflict, and prevent it from escalating into violence.
In this 20-minute episode, you’ll hear Nealin Parker, Executive Director of Search USA, who oversees 1YC. She explains how the students go through a series of online dialogue sessions, led by trained online facilitators, to begin to unpack issues related to identity, values and how that shapes our views on hot-topic current events. This program directly responds to the growing polarization in the United States, and the opportunity to equip young university students with the skills and experiences of dealing with conflict collaboratively. The program evaluations demonstrate that the skills and perspectives the students gain through 1YC contribute directly to their ability to deal with real-life conflict once it arises on the university campus.
Interested in further exploring the results Nealin highlighted? Check our Impact Report and learn more about Common Ground USA here. And if you would like to use digital peacebuilding in your program, check out our Digital Peacebuilders Guide!
Breakthroughs is produced by Search for Common Ground, the world’s largest peacebuilding organization. Each episode highlights the stories of activists on the frontlines of violent conflict. We’ll discover how they tackled tough problems around the world, by building collaboration.