Wichita State, KMUW and StoryCorps create collaboration of differences

Wichita State and others are partnering together to tackle political polarization “one conversation at a time.”

Wichita State is collaborating with One Small Step, a StoryCorps effort, to have civil conversations. According to WSU Strategic Communications, it is an effort to “mend the fraying fabric of our nation”

In this collaboration, people with differing political views come together and hold a 50-minute conversation about their own lives, rather than political views. Using this initiative to remember the humanity in each of us.

During these conversations, a moderator asks questions to further the conversation. 

Dalton Glasscock, adjunct political science lecturer, and Shirley Lefever, executive vice president and provost, have participated in these conversations. 

“[Wichita State] seemed like it was a really good place for multiple perspectives to come together in these conversations, and [StoryCorps] just kind of felt like this was a good spot to really amplify their work,” Lefever said. 

Lefever said their starting point was discussing someone they looked up to. While both of them chose different people, the lessons they learned from them were similar. Lefever said the conversation flowed and the moderator didn’t have to intervene much to keep the conversation going. 

“We’re all more alike than we’re different, and if we know that as sort of the foundation of any kind of relationship that we’re trying to build, maybe there’s more room for conversation than we originally thought,” Lefever said.

NPR reached out to KMUW and WSU and asked them to be a part of this project.

“We associate universities with places where people really start to understand who you are, what is your place in society, and part of that is having those relationships with people who are different than you,” Lefever said.

These conversations started this past summer. People in Wichita have preferred status in participating in these conversations. The waitlist on the national level is high. To join a conversation, you can sign up at storycorps.org. There are also 24 former conversations available to listen to.