Boise State University

Contact Information

FY 2018 Community Conversations Research

Executive Summary

The Idaho Civil Conversations Network (ICCN) will develop a method of bridging the divisions that separate people from divergent communities and political perspectives regarding immigration and refugee resettlement. By establishing points of commonality through civil dialogue and participatory research, the ICCN seeks to identify ways to create welcoming communities for immigrants and refugees.

In year 1 a research team of 5 Boise community members, 2 Boise State faculty, and 1 graduate student will refine the Living Room Conversations (LRC) model to discuss immigration and refugee resettlement in Idaho. The project involves a close collaboration with two community organizations, Wassmuth Center for Human Rights and Idaho Black History Museum, which make critical contributions to ongoing community efforts to make Idaho welcoming to immigrants and refugees. The research model includes team members recruiting community members to participate in LRCs, and will evaluate and refine the model seeking to answer the research questions: How/do civil conversations (CC) about immigration and refugee resettlement affect thinking about these divisive issues? How/can outcomes from CC contribute to creating communities in which immigrants and refugees are welcome? In parallel, students enrolled in a course at Boise State titled "Seeking Opportunity and Refuge" will select one migrant/refugee group represented in Boise and develop a research report responding to the question of "Why are they fleeing?" The research team will prepare the students to conduct their own LRCs, while the student researchers will share their reports with the research team as a resource to inform their research. In year 2, the approach will be taken to high school communities, first in the Boise metropolitan area and then three rural communities in Idaho. Youth involvement is essential to creating lasting change.

The culmination of the grant will be a summer 2020 community event showcasing the action plan for creating welcoming communities. This project is timely and essential as we witness a rise in incivility and tension regarding immigration and refugee resettlement, both in Idaho, the U.S., and globally. Idaho is a state small in population and large in geography. Our unique combination of strengths will allow us to develop an effective community conversations model that can be modified for use elsewhere at the high school, university, and community levels.

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