Civic engagement and freedom of expression through conversations is the goal for Wichita State University students, faculty and staff as they participate in StoryCorps’ One Small Step program.
Designed to “remind the country of the humanity in all of us,” One Small Step brings people with different political views together to record a facilitated 50-minute conversation. The moderator asks questions and keeps the conversation moving. The focus is on the lives of the participants, not politics.
Dalton Glasscock, adjunct lecturer in Wichita State’s Department of Political Science, and Dr. Shirley Lefever, executive vice president and provost, are working with One Small Step Organizers to engage students, faculty and staff. Both have participated in conversations and encourage others on campus to sign up to be part of the One Small Step recordings.
One Small Step recordings will be both in person and virtual and there is no limit on the number of participants.
“We are excited to have WSU invited to partner with One Small Step,” Lefever said. “Being a part of these conversations, you realize it’s possible to have a civil conversation and respect each other, even if you’re on differing sides of a particular issue.”
Wichita is one of four anchor communities working closely with One Small Step and StoryCorps founder Dave Isay and others to try to address what Isay calls the “toxic polarization” enveloping the country. The project started with 25 virtual conversations between Wichita-area residents in 2020, facilitated through KMUW, Wichita Public Radio, and continues to expand.
Glasscock said he is drawn to the civic engagement aspect of the conversations.
“Anything that brings people together to better understand each other is good for our democracy,” he said.