By Amy Pason at the University of Nevada, Reno - "Howl your opinions - Deliberately"

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In this October 3, 2019 Nevada Today article titled Howl your opinions - deliberately, Associate Professor Amy Pason writes about how important it is to "...learn how to discuss difficult and controversial topics with others, and not merely attend events where we just cheer for 'our side.'"

The following is an excerpt from Pason's article:

Learning how to deliberate current event issues with others is exactly the task that students in COM 468: Facilitating Difficult Discussions have focused on this semester, as they prepare to facilitate the Wolf Pack Community Howls for this semester in conjunction with ASUN Center for Student Engagement.  Students are learning that it is possible to have discussions that are intended to gain mutual understanding on complex topics and understand the interests of different stakeholders rather than trying to “win” a debate. From my experience with last year’s Community Howls, students who participated in small group discussions following the National Issues Forums model on the issues of mental health and community safety and justice walked away from the discussions understanding the topics in new ways and reconsidering their views in light with what they heard from other participants.  Some students even reported being more willing to have similar discussions with friends and family...

Amy Pason is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Studies.  She teaches courses on persuasion, facilitation, public speaking, and other courses related to public advocacy.  She researches the rhetoric of social movements, and has a co-edited collection from University of Alabama Press, What Democracy Looks Like: The Rhetoric of Social Movements and Counterpublics.