The Spirit of Dialogue: Lessons from Faith Traditions in Transforming Water Conflicts

In the West, we are generally trained to base our approach to managing water conflicts on rationality, and tools typically focus on what is measurable and quantifiable. If only we could see the tangible benefits of cooperating, we are taught, we simply would.

Over Wolf's 20 years as a facilitator and scholar working through and studying conflicts over shared water resources around the world, he has come to appreciate both the limitations of the rational models on which we in the West base our understandings of conflict and cooperation and the wisdom, constructs, and practical tools of the world’s faith traditions in working toward deep and healthy interactions around contentious issues.

Wolf draws lessons from a diversity of faith traditions to transform conflict. True listening, as practiced by Buddhist monks, as opposed to the “active listening” advocated by many mediators, can be the key to calming a colleague’s anger. Alignment with an energy beyond oneself, what Christians would call grace, can change self-righteousness into community concern. Shifting the discussion from one about interests to one about common values—both farmers and environmentalists share the value of love of place—can be the starting point for real dialogue. These and other practical lessons will be presented.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018 at 12:00pm to 1:00pm

CHASS Interdisciplinary South, 1113

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