Can We Talk?

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Dr. Jonathan Zimmerman began his address at UC on September 13 with a startling statistic: The more education you have, the less likely it is that you’ve had a conversation with someone of a different political perspective in the past year.

“That, to me, is the ultimate indictment of American higher education,” he said. “Education should mean exposing us to things that aren’t us.”

In his talk, which kicked off UC’s year-long “Talking Across Differences” series, Zimmerman advocated for reasoned, informed debates in the classroom, and encouraged professors and students not to shy away from tough topics for fear of creating controversy.

“We need to talk about talk,” he said, explaining that the most effective way to bridge the gaps in society is through open conversation—without name-calling, explicit language, or labels. “Those are the things that substitute for real arguments and delegitimize people on the other side,” he says. “That’s the danger.”

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