Conflict Resolution Program, University of Denver
Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003
This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).
As you know, the re-entry problem has to do with when parties gain new information and potentially have new changed attitudes as a result of interacting in a concentrated forum within a time period usually, as well as very intense discussions with somebody from the other side. Then when they go back and check, it is almost as though those changes happen in a bubble. It is a little bit of a bubble and it's created a different reality from the reality that's out in the world because this is a reality where Israelis and Palestinians talk to each other or whoever the parties happen to be. It is where they talk to each other and wrestle with tough issues together, but actually treat each other with respect in a way that people don't on the outside. I don't know if you want to say that the power is equalized, but all those things when you go back out of the room, that keep you from either talking to the other or being able to work with each other are not there in that bubble. That's a good thing from the perspective of generating new options and learning about the other, but when you take it back out of the room, out of the bubble, you do still have those new ideas and those new options and new insights into the other.
You also have these preexisting patterns in your community that you're taking back that are going to invalidate the validity of that information. So you're going to have to somehow fight against that, so that it doesn't prevent you from doing anything differently. People's behaviors get turned into policies or laws or whatever and it's hard to change those things. That's actually one of the things that we've tried to look at in our evaluation work concerning the impact of these workshops. It's pretty clear that people's attitudes get changed, but then the next question is, so what.
If people's attitudes get changed and then they can go out to their institution they work for or networks they're involved in, whether it's a religious network or a professional network or whatever, and they can then do something different as a result of the insights of that person or those individuals that were involved. Then the larger relationship between the parties changes at least at that local level. Then you can say well, then there's something changing that's outside of the bubble.