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PCP Launches “A Better Question” Series on Hot Topics

Recently there has been a lot of talk on our NCDD discussion listserv about how to have good conversations around the current vaccine debate, and so we wanted to share this timely piece from our friends with the Public Conversations Project. PCP is launching a new blog series aimed at helping folks have better conversations on controversial topics called “A Better Question,” and they dealt with vaccinations as their first subject.

We encourage you to read their piece below or find the original on the PCP blog by clicking here.


PCP new logoA Better Question: Vaccinations

For the past 25 years, Public Conversations Project has been helping people navigate deep differences in identity. It is understandable when people reach out to ask us to comment on a current crisis in our world. How can communities like Ferguson, Missouri resolve the tension tearing them apart? What can dialogue do for the people of Paris after the latest shootings? How do we resolve our differences about same-sex marriage?

We don’t know. Public Conversations Project doesn’t presume to know what any community should or shouldn’t do without the deep preparation, collaboration, and local awareness that has made our work effective for so long. So, what can we offer the conversation about these highly visible, hotly contested issues without being prescriptive?

A better question. A better question than “should we or shouldn’t we?”A better question than “How can you think that way?” A better question than you’d be likely to hear on TV or social media.

We have decided to offer this as a new series on our blog – it will appear from time to time when a polarizing conversation seems like it could benefit from “A Better Question.” The series is meant to inspire people to have a better conversation in their communities, with their friends and family. It is meant to help bring a little more understanding and a little less demonization. We believe the best conversations are the ones that start with questions, and that most conversations are only as good as the question that starts them.

The first entry is a set of questions that relate to the issue of vaccination in children, a hotly debated issue that has come to prominence in recent months since the outbreak of diseases we thought long vanished. The conversation is a difficult one: it’s about our children, our health, and some of our deeply held values. Rather than shaking your head, or your fist, at someone who doesn’t share your view on vaccination, we invite you to start a conversation with some better questions:

  • What are the core values or commitments that frame your views on vaccination?
  • What do you take into account when deciding which information sources you trust about vaccinations?
  • What have you heard said about your views that leaves you feeling mischaracterized?
  • What do you want folks on the other side of this issue to most understand about your thinking and motivations?
  • Where, if at all, do you feel pulled in different directions, have mixed feelings, areas of less certainty, etc.?
  • How have you learned about those whose viewpoints differ from yours? What else might you want to find out about them?
  • What do you think the media, government or others could do to help or hurt this current situation?

What other questions would you add to this list? Let us know and join the conversation.

You can find the original version of this Public Conversations Project blog piece at www.publicconversations.org/blog/better-question-vaccination#sthash.mfovN2Qh.dpuf.

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Roshan Bliss
An inclusiveness trainer and group process facilitator, Roshan Bliss serves as NCDD's Youth Engagement Coordinator and Blog Curator. Combining his belief that decisions are better when everyone is involved with his passion for empowering young people, his work focuses on increasing the involvement of youth and students in public conversations.

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