A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

George Kent founded Hate2Debate to help people understand each other — and restore civility

By Andy Furman
NKyTribune Reporter

George Kent certainly knows about choices.

He made plenty in his lifetime.

Kent received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Colorado, but also studied at the University of Athens, Greece and the University of Lavel, Quebec, Canada. He was professor and Dean of the School of Health and Human Services at California State University Chico and also taught at five other universities including the University of Louisville and Northern Kentucky University.

He also served as executive director for Northern Kentucky Family Health (now HealthPoint) and later as executive director of Life Learning Center. He lives in Northern Kentucky and is still very much engaged in the community.

But his biggest choice came on January 6, 2021.

“We’ve seen what happened on January 6th, and most of the population was appalled by it,” he said. “The question is, Where do we go from here?”

That is the biggest choice in today’s world, he says.

“After the insurrection of January 6th,” Kent told the Northern Kentucky Tribune, “I started thinking; what is it I can do – I can bring people together.”

What he did was get nationally certified as a mediator and founded Hate2Debate, an organization that brings together people with diverse political opinions and teaches them how to have productive civil conversations.

In fact, he’s been a volunteer instructor at the Kenton County Detention Center where he has taught employment after incarceration.

“What I didn’t know,” he says, “is what these people knew. I learned much by just working with people.”

So how does one try to bring people together; and, moreover why?

“The U.S. looked like it is trending towards Civil War, according to models displayed in Barbara Shaffer’s, Day by Day through the Civil War in Georgia,” Kent said. “I’m not real comfortable the way the country is going. I can go with it; or do something about it.”

What George Kent is doing – and has done – is Hate2Debate.

Click image to go to website<

“We recognize that many people hate to engage in conversation around tough topics. We’d rather unfriend others – even family – on social channels than talk in a calm and civil manner,” Kent writes.

Hate2Debate helps participants learn how to have safe and civil conversations – to understand others who have differing perspectives.

“To listen with new ears,” he says.

Kent says his participants – in groups of eight – agree to two 90-minute sessions over a two-week period — online or in person.

“It is led by an expert who provides a neutral briefing document. This document is the basis for you to have interesting and engaging vulnerable discussions, while searching for areas of common ground,” he said.

And each participant will have a choice of one of three topics for discussion – Elections, Immigration or Guns.

“I don’t plan on changing anyone’s mind-set on any topic,” he said, “but I’ve researched and vetted these subjects.”

The workshops are free – but Kent says he’d like the participants to make a donation to the charity of their choice.

“We can bring people together for a workshop; we can bring people together to mend a relationship with, family, friends or even co-workers,” he said.

The Hate-2-Debate Workshop seeks to:

• Allow everyone to share ideas without fear of criticism or conflict.
• Understand what led people to their conclusions and beliefs.
• Find areas of agreement without anyone giving up their own views.

“I think we need to invest in individuals whose views differ from ours to demonstrate that we hear them,” Kent said. “We may not agree with their basic views. Success is not defined here as changing belief, but altering behavior.

“If these citizens appreciate that it is in their best interest to explore ways to express their frustrations and grievances without resorting to extremism and violence, then this effort will have been sufficient.”

The choice really isn’t George Kent’s – it’s really yours.

Hate2Debate – For further information GeorgeKent@Hate2Debate.com or see www.Hate2Debate.com

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One Comment

  1. Lorrie Miller Hill says:

    Love this! The art of civil debate has been lost and this is a great start to restoring it. A difference of opinion is only just that and nothing more. Thank you, Dr. Kent, for your efforts.

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