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Small Acts in Times of Conflict

Three HGSE faculty members share actionable steps and words of wisdom for supporting young people amid uncertain times

How can we create space for hope amid crisis? On top of the turmoil of recent years, the last months of 2023 have seen heightened division and tension within higher education institutions and beyond.

Here, three faculty members share ideas for creating space for stability and understanding within the classroom and at home. 

Professor Sarah Dryden-Peterson and Senior Lecturers Junlei Li and Richard Weissbourd offer words of advice that educators, parents, and everyone can use as they consider how to respond in challenging times.

How To Teach In Times Of Uncertainty

Dryden-Peterson outlines four principles that educators can use to guide their classroom during uncertain times. Based on her research in refugee education, these principles can help educators establish a foundation of respect in their classrooms and give students a sense of comfort and certainty in otherwise destabilizing environments.   

How To Humanize One Another

Li, who is also the co-chair of the Human Development and Education master’s program, suggests ways for people to strengthen their interpersonal relationships and community bonds, and create a deeper sense of understanding. In a prior Education Now episode, Li shared insights on how anyone can build and sustain resilience in challenging times. Below, he shares similar advice about the importance of relationship-building and the power of simple interactions.

How To Talk About Global Events With Kids

In the latest report about the mental health of young people from Making Caring Common, Weissbourd and his team found that almost half (45%) of respondents ranked “a general sense that things are falling apart” as one of the top drivers of negative mental health. To combat this feeling of powerlessness, Weissbourd recommends turning passivity into activity. This can look like writing to a Congressperson or reaching out to people/friends or community members who may be directly impacted by current events. 


The latest research, perspectives, and highlights from the Harvard Graduate School of Education

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