This blog is my place to collect and share information that will shed light on how people can (and do) engage in positive difference-making, especially through communication scholarship and practice. Our world is in dire need of people who can make a positive difference – who can encourage compassion, connection, community, equity, social justice, sustainability, and democracy. On this site, I blend and move between two topics: (1) how to engage in difference-making, which implies all sorts of communication processes, and (2) engaging in difference-making discourse, especially around subjects like human rights, civil rights, the US First Amendment freedoms, and access to affordable health care.
The name of my site was inspired by an article that Professor Lawrence Frey wrote in 2009, entitled What a Difference More Difference-Making Communication Scholarship Might Make: Making a Difference From and Through Communication Research. As Professor Frey asked,
To what extent have scholars intervened, using the wide range of available communicative practices (e.g., from offering communication skills training to facilitating dialogue forums to creating performances to developing written, visual, and spoken works; see Frey & SunWolf, 2009), to make a difference in people’s symbolic understanding of and ways they communicate to affect such important issues as (and please add to the list) alternative energy, climate control, the economy, genocide, homelessness, human rights, immigration, poverty, race-ethnic-religious relations, terrorism, torture, violence, and warfare? (p. 211)
I am a communication scholar, teacher, and trainer. My interest in difference-making communication dates from my long ago days as an attorney. My desire to move beyond the limitations of adversarial templates for interaction led me from a legal career to a career in the field of communication and conflict management. My work in the conflict communication field, and particularly with the transformative mediation model, focused on the roles that strength of self (agency) and connection to others (empathy) played in the process of conflict interaction, and particularly, in changing the very quality of that interaction. Over time, my curiosity about these dynamics has taken me beyond the mediation field and into the study of how people make a difference in society, politics, the media, public discourse, education, and other domains. Because making a difference generally implies some kind of change process, and change implies conflict, I continue to be drawn to exploring the underlying dynamics of agency and empathy in both conflict and change.
A wide array of materials is appropriate to my goal, including scholarly research, essays, book reviews, commentary on current events, works of fiction, poetry and art, quotes, slide shows, videos, and links to the websites, blogs, and publications of others who share similar interests. Together, these materials can provide valuable resources and inspiration for those who want to make a positive difference. I am happy to share these materials and ask only that you give proper attribution to the source.
Dorothy Della Noce
Frey, L. R. (2009). What a difference more difference-making communication scholarship might make: Making a difference from and through communication research. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 37(2), 205-214. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00909880902792321
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