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  • matspaulsen

Let’s play; I walk in your shoes, you walk in mine

In a course at Georgetown University, conservative Christian and liberal students play each other. The theme is the storming of the Capitol. They don't just repeat what the other said, they put themselves in the other's shoes, literally. The pedagogical effect is strong.

Fika-Emma meets Emma Jaster and Ijeoma Njaka from "The Laboratory for Global Performance & Politics"

I am in the US to meet with initiatives similar to the Fika project. The first stop is Georgetown University in Washington, DC. Their "In Your Shoes"-method has many similarities to Fika's bubble-hopping method.

"In Your Shoes" uses concrete events, such as the storming of the Capitol on January 6, 2021. Students from (the quintessentially liberal) Georgetown U play with students from a conservative Christian university. A conservative Christian plays liberal, and a liberal plays conservative Christian. Usually, they cannot understand each other's opinions; the others are "idiots".

Feelings during the storming

The students tell their personal experiences about how they perceived what happened on January 6, and what they said and did. The stories are recorded and transcribed. Then they act out each other's stories in front of other students.

For it to be good, they must learn to listen deeply, observe body language, imitate gestures, and carefully repeat what the other person is saying. Expressing the other person

creates more profound understanding, opens perspectives, and increases empathy. In addition, it is interesting for others to look at.

Theatre and political scientists work together

"In Your Shoes" started in 2018 and, like bubble-hopping, is a pedagogical method for helping people with different opinions to understand each other better. The method was developed in an academic lab run jointly by theater and political scientists. It integrates drama, research, pedagogy, and action.

"In Your Shoes" is also used outside universities. In addition to teaching students, the lab runs workshops for professionals. Among other things, for diplomats in Washington DC.

Will work in Sweden

I think the method and the way to develop it in a lab could be used in Sweden. For personal development, increased ability to include diverse perspectives, for integration, and to break organizational silos. Perhaps also to slow down polarization. Check out a PBS story about "In Your Shoes"

The next inspiration stop will be at MIT in Boston.

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