Courageous Dialogues: Moving Beyond Polarization

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Overcoming Divisions

Courageous Dialogues: Moving Beyond Polarization is a project that aims to build skills, capacity and willingness to understand how we as a society have come to be so divided on so many issues of social concern and what we can do to overcome these divisions.

It is important to find ways of helping us all move beyond polarization so we can bring our best selves forward to collaborate around solving the big social and environmental problems we face.

This is a collaborative project led by the Mir Centre for Peace at Selkirk College and Selkirk Innovates along with Capilano University and Vancouver Community College.

Read our resource guide, literature review and annotated bibliographies.

What is Polarization?

Polarization is a complex social dynamic that occurs when an issue that involves many different people, concerns and opinions is reduced to two opposing sides— “for or against” or “us vs them.” It goes well beyond ordinary disagreement. In fact, it can lead us to avoid debate or consideration of others’ ideas completely. When we believe that we alone hold the truth, we may see differences of opinion, values and beliefs as threatening and intolerable. These dynamics disrupt effective patterns of home and workplace communication. Instead of working with difference and making conflict constructive, we allow polarization to create painful divisions that are hard to overcome.

Project Goals

The project aims to identify tools, strategies and other resources for helping our communities overcome polarization.


If you are interested in learning more about the project, please contact Project Director Jennie Barron.

Project Members

Selkirk College

Jennie Barron
Project Director

Pablo Pastor
Faculty Researcher

Jayme Jones
Faculty Researcher

Leeza Perehudoff
Research Assistant

Alisha Samnani
Research Intern

Marta Abel
People & Culture Coordinator

Tiffany Snauwaert
Advisor, Community Education & Workplace Training

Marissa Carrasco
Advisor, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

Holly Steenvoorden
Research Officer

Vancouver Community College

Andrea Korens
Faculty Researcher

Capilano University

Diana Twiss
Faculty Researcher

Dennis Silvestrone
Advisor, Adult Education

Advisor at large

Jan Inglis
Independent Consultant, Adult Development and Public Participation

Partner organizations

Continuing Education & Training Association of BC (CETA)

Claire Sauve

Columbia Basin Alliance for Literacy (CBAL)

Desneiges Profili
Executive Director

Carolyn Amantea
Community Literacy Coordinator, Settlement Program Lead

Decoda Literacy Solutions

Sandra Lee
Executive Director

Maureen Kehler
Program Manager

Courageous Dialogues: Moving Beyond Polarization is supported in part by funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

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