CPL Moderator Training Syllabus

CPL Moderator Training is a science-based training that teaches you to design, moderate, and participate in respectful and productive discussions on controversial topics. Past graduates  have applied these skills in various settings, such as workplaces, homes, schools, and churches, helping others treat one another with dignity and respect and keeping conversations civil and productive. Upon completion of the training, graduates hone their skills as moderators at Crossing Party Lines’ weekly conversations, which provide an opportunity for people to engage with others who have different views and experiences, and to challenge their own assumptions and biases.

  • 16 self-paced online lessons
  • Virtual class discussions
  • One-on-one meetings with the instructor
  • Virtual practice sessions.

6 weeks

Four weeks of class, 2 weeks for individual practicums

None, however CPL 100, 102, 102, and 103 are strongly recommended.

  • Create connection and rapport by humanizing the “others” in the room.
  • Reflect back, and when needed, reframe, challenging statements in a way that defuses animosity and makes it possible for others to hear them.
  • Ask questions that help people gain insight into why a person’s views make sense for them.
  • How to model and encourage skillful communication.
  • Manage domineering or disruptive participants to ensure conversations stay on track and all participants get a chance to hear and be heard.
  • Check your own views at the door and remain focused on the success of every participant, regardless of where they are coming from.
  • Adapt your skills and techniques to virtual, in person, or hybrid interactions.
Week 1 Lesson 1 — Welcome! explores the theory and beliefs behind Crossing Party Lines.
Lesson 2 — The Meetup Experience presents at the experience we work so hard to provide to our members.
Lesson 3 — Facilitation Basics introduces basic facilitation skills.
Lesson 4 — Facilitation CPL-Style narrows our focus to the facilitation skills you’ll be using most as you facilitate a CPL meeting.
Week 2 Lesson 5 — The Power of Listening teaches you why we focus on listening more than talking.
Lesson 6 — Active Listening introduces the skill you’ll depend on most as a moderator, which is listening with the goal to understand.
Lesson 7 — Active Listening within the Context of CPL gives you examples of how and when to use active listening as a CPL moderator.
Lesson 8 — Theory and Science Behind CPL introduces you to some of the things science has taught us about political differences and relates these to experiences you may have at CPL meetings.
Week 3 Lesson 9 — Reframing teaches how you can help your members “own” their views by speaking from personal experience.
Lesson 10 — Crafting Questions introduces you to techniques for asking questions that invite members to share more deeply.
Lesson 11 — Disruption Management gives you the skills and confidence to step in before a discussion gets out of hand and deal with problems if they arise.
Lesson 12 — Facting explores CPL’s unique take on using facts in a political discussion.
Week 4 Lesson 13 — Making Meetups Happen explores the elements of the meeting itself and how each plays an important role in giving our members the experience they came for.
Lesson 14 — Preparing for the Topic teaches you how to prepare to run a discussion about the current topic. You will have a Topic Guide to take the stress out of it.
Lesson 15 — Celebrating Community and Success covers the important skill of anchoring the good work you do by calling attention to our members’ growth.
Lesson 16 — Moderator Self Care introduces some of the techniques and perspectives that other moderators use to energize themselves and keep an open, curious mind.
Week 5 and Week 6 Practicums
  • Swallow, Lisa, Yes You CAN Talk Politics (2021)  [PDF provided at first day of class]

Upcoming Trainings:

SessionDatesRegistration Link
Winter 2024January 22 — March 3Registration Link
Summer 2024July 15 — August 25Registration Link

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    The Two Types of Depolarization

    Depolarization — the work of reducing toxic polarization — is best understood in terms of the two types of polarization that shape our interactions and perceptions in today’s politically charged climate:

    1. Affective Polarization

    Affective polarization revolves around emotions and feelings. It refers to the emotional divide between individuals or groups with differing political views. It’s about how people feel about others who hold opposing ideologies.

    • Us vs. Them: In affective polarization, people tend to see those on the other side of the political spectrum as part of an “us vs. them” mentality. Emotions like anger, fear, and distrust often come into play.
    • Emotional Reactions: When encountering someone with opposing views, affectively polarized individuals may experience heightened emotions. They might feel threatened, defensive, or even hostile.
    • Echo Chambers: Social media and personalized news feeds can exacerbate affective polarization by reinforcing existing beliefs and isolating individuals from diverse perspectives.

    2. Cognitive Polarization

    Cognitive polarization focuses on thought processes and cognitive biases. It pertains to how people think about the views of others.

    • Discounting Opposing Views: Cognitive polarization leads to a tendency to discount opposing viewpoints without critically evaluating them. People may jump to conclusions, assuming that differing opinions lack validity or logical soundness.
    • Us vs. Them (Again): Just as in affective polarization, cognitive polarization reinforces the “us vs. them” mindset. It hinders open-mindedness and intellectual curiosity.
    • Intellectual Echo Chambers: Cognitive polarization occurs when people surround themselves with like-minded sources, reinforcing their preconceptions and avoiding exposure to alternative perspectives.

    The Interplay Between Affective and Cognitive Polarization

    Affective and cognitive polarization often feed into each other. Emotional reactions (affective) influence how we process information (cognitive), and vice versa.

    Breaking the Cycle: CPL recognizes that depolarization  requires us to address both affective and cognitive aspects. Encouraging empathy and  active listening is not enough.  We must also teach critical thinking and intellectual humility if we are to truly bridge the gap.

    About Bridging

    Bridging refers to the intentional effort to reduce toxic polarization by fostering understanding, empathy, and communication between individuals or groups with differing political views. It aims to build connections and discover our shared humanity, ultimately bridging the gaps that divides people along ideological lines.