The Way Out: How to Overcome Toxic Polarization

The Herbert C. Kelman Seminar on International Conflict Analysis and Resolution

Peter Coleman

Event Date: Friday December 17, 2021
Time: 12:00-1:00 pm

The Herbert C. Kelman Seminar on International Conflict Analysis and Resolution presents:

The Way Out:
How to Overcome Toxic Polarization

A virtual talk with:

Peter Coleman, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology and Education, Columbia University

Friday, December 17, 2021
12:00 pm – 1:00 pm, ET (US and Canada)

Free and open to the public.

This session will be recorded. Pending approval, we will post the recorded webinar on this page after the session.


The partisan divide in the United States has widened to a chasm. Legislators vote on party lines and rarely cross the aisle. Surveys show that Americans have become more fearful and hateful of supporters of the opposing political party and imagine that they hold much more extreme views than they actually do. How can we loosen the grip of this toxic polarization and start working on our most pressing problems?

Peter Coleman’s research in The Way Out offers an escape from this morass. His book explores how conflict resolution and complexity science provide guidance for dealing with seemingly intractable political differences. Coleman meticulously details principles and practices for navigating and healing the difficult divides in our homes, workplaces, and communities, blending compelling personal accounts from his years of working on entrenched conflicts with lessons from leading-edge research.

About the speaker:

Dr. Peter T. Coleman is Professor of Psychology and Education at Columbia University where he holds a joint-appointment at Teachers College and The Earth Institute. Dr. Coleman directs the Morton Deutsch International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution (MD-ICCCR), is Founding Director of the Institute for Psychological Science and Practice (IPSP), and is Executive Director of Columbia University’s Advanced Consortium on Cooperation, Conflict, and Complexity (AC4).

Dr. Coleman has received multiple awards as an expert on constructive conflict resolution and sustainable peace. He is a founding board member of the Gbowee Peace Foundation USA and a member of the United Nations Mediation Support Unit’s Academic Advisory Council. He is a New York State certified mediator and experienced consultant. His current research focuses on conflict intelligence and systemic wisdom as meta-competencies for navigating conflict constructively across all levels (from families to companies to communities to nations), and includes projects on adaptive negotiation and mediation dynamics, cross-cultural adaptivity, optimality dynamics in conflict, justice and polarization, multicultural conflict, intractable conflict, and sustainable peace.

Dr. Coleman is an author and editor of books, articles and chapters some of which are the Handbook of Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice (2000, 2006, 2014), The Five Percent: Finding Solutions to Seemingly Impossible Conflicts (2011), Psychological Components of Sustainable Peace (2012), Attracted to Conflict: Dynamic Foundations of Destructive Social Relations (2013), Making Conflict Work: Navigating Disagreement Up and Down Your Organization (2014). His most recent book on breaking through the intractable polarization plaguing the U.S. and other societies across the globe is titled, The Way Out: How to Overcome Toxic Polarization (June 2021).

About the Herbert C. Kelman Seminar Series:

The Herbert C. Kelman Seminar on International Conflict Analysis and Resolution series is sponsored by the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, The Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, and Boston area members of the Alliance for Peacebuilding. The seminar considers ways to strengthen the capacity to prevent, resolve, and transform ethnonational conflicts.

 For more information on the Kelman Seminar Series, contact Donna Hicks at

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