Having empathy and respect for oneself and others when engaging in difficult dialogue is an essential part of peace education. Gandhi emphasized that involving emotions was more transformative than purely intellectual approaches to education. Nonviolent communication (NVC), as developed by Marshall Rosenberg, is a tool for fostering empathy and building connection across difference. Using NVC for difficult conversations in any college classroom is a way of mainstreaming peace education across the curriculum. Though there is literature on difficult conversations in the college classroom, and on the effectiveness of NVC in general and in K-12 classrooms, there is very little on NVC in college spaces, and none on NVC for difficult conversations. In this primarily qualitative study college students were asked to use NVC to discuss controversial nonviolent actions. We found that even when both professor and students were NVC beginners, students were able to use it to discuss polarizing protests in a class with a diversity of views and needs for respect were overwhelmingly met. NVC was also useful for deepening analysis of the effectiveness of nonviolent actions, and could serve as a tool of emotional regulation for nonviolent action, or a modern day sort of purification for satyagraha.
Nonviolent communication, nonviolence, difficult conversations, college classroom, Kent State, scholarship of teaching and learning (SOTL)
Koopman, Sara and Seliga, Laine
"Teaching peace by using nonviolent communication for difficult conversations in the college classroom,"
Peace and Conflict Studies: Vol. 27:
3, Article 2.
Available at: https://nsuworks.nova.edu/pcs/vol27/iss3/2