UCSB professor Tania Israel brings people together with ‘Beyond the Bubble’
Following the 2016 election, UCSB professor Tania Israel found that “it was apparent that there was a political divide in this country, and that it was affecting our health and our relationships.”
After she noticed disagreements among people with opposing political beliefs, Ms. Israel set out to find a way to mend the divide and started the Beyond the Bubble workshop.
The program brings individuals from different political backgrounds together to talk about the issues that they disagree on.
“I just want to do something helpful in the context of people who are suffering with the current political divide,” said Ms. Israel, who works in the UCSB Department of Counseling, Clinical and School Psychology.
As she spent her first year putting on the Beyond the Bubble workshop, she was inspired to find a new way to help people communicate and got the idea to write her first book known as, “Beyond Your Bubble: How to Connect Across the Political Divide” (American Psychological Association, $16.99).
“One thing I noticed was we haven’t necessarily developed the skills to have conversations with people who disagree with us,” Ms. Israel said.
Set for an August release, the nonpartisan book will focus on developing communication skills when it comes to having difficult conversations about political and social issues. Ms. Israel said the book is a combination of both her workshop as well as “the evidence base that we have in psychology.”
Even with her extensive background in psychology and difficult dialogues, Ms. Israel said she still learned a lot during the year she was writing her book.
Noticing that people tend to overestimate their perceptions with people on the other side of the aisle and that “Most of us are closer to people on the other side than we are aware of and have more common ground with them than we think.”
Ms. Israel said it is a positive thing for people who disagree to engage in constructive conversations and that, “Sometimes there are different kinds of conversations that we need to have with people who disagree with us than with people who do agree with us.”
Ms. Israel hopes that the book can be used as a helpful tool for people struggling with communicating their thoughts on difficult issues to others as well as help people learn to understand each other better.
“I think for people who want a conversation or are afraid of a conversation that this will make them more confident and skilled to do that,” Ms. Israel said.
The book will touch upon numerous current topics and includes a section discussing the role social media plays in the current political and social landscape. Although the book will discuss the role of social media, Ms. Israel said, “This is about having dialogue with people face to face and not Facebook to Facebook.”
While the country continues to go through a major civil rights movement, Ms. Israel said that when her book comes out in August, it could be helpful as people continue the fight for racial equality.
“We’re obviously in a pivotal moment right now about how we address racial injustice in our country, and dialogue can be an important tool for people who want to be allies to black people,” Ms. Israel said.
“Beyond Your Bubble: how to Connect Across the Political Divide” by Tania Israel (American Psychological Association, $16.99) is scheduled for an August release. For pre-orders, go to taniaisrael.com.