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Why campus protests worsen divisions, and how to mediate: Advice from Eboo Patel

students protesting the Gaza war on a college campus and GZERO World with ian bremmer - the podcast

Listen: On this episode of the GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer, Eboo Patel, founder of Interfaith America, advocates for cooperation over division on college campuses in response to protests, highlighting the need for civil discourse and pointing out that despite some instances of violence, most campuses engage in constructive dialogue.

Whether you are for or against the protests happening across the country, one thing is clear: They've caught the world's attention. Some have escalated into violence, as seen at UCLA, Texas, and Columbia University. On the podcast, Patel discusses his efforts on over 600 college campuses to foster unity. His central message: "Cooperation is better than division."

Patel emphasizes the need for universities to shift their focus from confrontation to cooperation, advocating for environments that promote civil discourse. He suggests initiatives such as teach-ins and dialogues to explore constructive solutions to complex issues. Patel criticizes the default mode of many universities. "I think the problem here, the thing that universities could control, which I think that they have gotten wrong in many cases over the course of the past five years, is the default mode has been set to confrontation, not cooperation."

While it may be challenging to find common ground, Patel highlights that the majority of college campuses have managed to engage in debates about the Israel-Gaza conflict without resorting to chaos or violence. He explains, "The media, for good reasons, covers planes that crash and not planes that land." This suggests that the instances of violence and chaos are outliers and that civil discourse is still prevalent on many campuses.

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