The purposes of this chapter are to demonstrate the need for social empathy in a democratic society, identify polarization barriers, and explore how American higher education can be a leading agent for developing social empathy. The United States has seen a recent rise in political tribalism, and it now faces rising antipathy between those holding polarized perspectives. Higher education is uniquely situated to address these problems. Like a mixing bowl, college is a place where students of all backgrounds can be combined in deep discourse at a key point in their psychological development. However, higher education has struggled to fulfill its potential, as efforts toward diversity have rarely achieved their goals. Utilizing the concepts of social empathy (Segal, 2018) and honest diversity (Manji, 2019), a new approach to diversity work in higher education may hold the key to establishing the sector’s prominence in developing a society of diverse people who can function respectfully toward one another.

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Book Chapter

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The Proper Role of Higher Education in a Democratic Society, Vincent Bowhay, ed. IGI Global. ISBN 9781799877448


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