February 23, 2018
Adam Ambrogi, Program Director of Elections at Democracy Fund
Chiedo Nwankwor, Visiting Research Associate and Adjunct Lecturer at Johns Hopkins SAIS
Daniel Serwer, Professor and Director of Conflict Management at Johns Hopkins SAIS
Moderated by Jonathan Eigege, Student Diversity Coalition Leader and MA’18 Africa Studies Concentrator at Johns Hopkins SAIS
The SAIS Diversity Committee and the Student Diversity Coalition hosted a workshop and panel to equip students with tools aimed at fostering engagement and dialogue amid growing ideological divides following the November 2016 US presidential election.
Adam Ambrogi led the workshop with tips and techniques for handling oneself in conversations with parties of different stances. While most of the conversation takes place with one on the dance floor, Ambrogi advised participants to step unto “the balcony” from time to time and look at how they could be sabotaging themselves by impulsively reacting, in emotion or in verbal or facial expressions, to statements made by their partner.
Professors Serwer and Nwankwor then discussed their own experiences with conversations in tough situations. Serwer spoke about the importance of finding the underlying common interest to bridge the gap between conflicting parties, such as in the case of the Croats and Muslim Bosniaks deciding who will lead their coalition forces. Nwankwor further highlighted the role of commonalities in identity, gender for example, to move forward on difficult issues despite differences in another aspect such as religion.
Both professors also talked about their Twitter lives: Serwer pointed out that self-reflection is necessary before both speaking in dialogue and posting on Twitter. And Nwankwor reminded participants that disagreements on ideas should not translate to attacks on persons: “Love conquers all.”