How To Survive the Age of Nationalism: A First Step in Finding Common Ground

April 26, 2017

Amani Students learning how to discuss with people that disagree

This isn’t another article about the echo chambers we live in. This is about how those of us who believe in progressive values are now in the minority. The people who voted for these leaders disagree with us. In this global age of nationalism, we are outside the tent.

So where does civil society go from here? A few months ago, one of our alumni gave us a challenge. She said that although she gained a lot through our Social Innovation Management program, she did not learn how to communicate and work with people with whom she fundamentally disagrees. What is Amani Institute’s response to this new world order, she asked. How can we help our students further build our skills in this regard?

Until that point, we had believed (and we still do) that our curriculum was a good response to these global shifts. But her question also helped us realize that we need to begin doing more.

We identified the first step as developing an important communication skill. How do we communicate effectively and work productively with those on the other side of the fence?
Amani Fellows from all over the world - diversity in the classroom

One of our faculty, Robert Wolfe, agreed to design a workshop to explore this idea with our current class of Fellows in Kenya. As a point of departure, we used the insights from Robb Wiler’s excellent TED Talk – where he describes how we tend to employ our own values when trying to persuade someone to change their mind about something, rather than speaking to their values instead. This is, of course, a surefire way to fail hopelessly. We lose our empathy just when it is most useful to us.

This is a cross-post from a LinkedIn article by our Co-Founder and CEO Roshan Paul. Read the entire piece here.

Interested in improving your skills to create change? Get out of your comfort zone and train with changemakers from all over the world in our award-winning Social Innovation Management program. Next classes begin in July. Apply Now!

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