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Changing Our Consciousness
Imagining the emotional experience of the other


Waging Dialogue


Emotional Imprint


The mission of COC is closely aligned with that of the Hot Stove Project The Hot Stove Project

The Hot Stove Project

Why Do We Have War and What Can Our Generation Do About It? Conversations with Dr. Vamık D. Volkan and Lord John Alderdice

View the transcript of the Volkan video in PDF

CHANGING OUR CONSCIOUSNESS is a non-profit organization that develops theoretical, methodological and educational tools to understand and mitigate intergroup conflict. By developing emotional literacy – the capacity to view the world through others' eyes – we facilitate dialogue between people of different thoughts, beliefs and communication styles, counter prejudice and stigma, and transform education.

Become part of the next innovation in human understanding.


Our video, Why Do We Have War & What Can Our Generation Do About It? includes "A Conversation with Dr. Vamık D. Volkan" and "A Conversation with Lord John Alderdice." These were filmed in January 2014, and September 2015, with young people associated with the Emotional Imprint program. Dr. Volkan is a five-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee who has led mediation efforts on the world stage and Lord Alderdice negotiated the Belfast Agreement in Northern Ireland. Both are globally renowned for their work on the dynamics of prejudice, ethnic conflict, and the forces that lead to war."

Bad Apple!!

We understand the force of gravity pretty well. If an apple falls from a tree and hits us on the head, we know why that happened. We know to avoid sitting under apple trees or to protect ourselves if we do.

Once we harnessed gravity, we could fly to the moon.

In contrast, Donald Trump hit us on the head and we have no idea how it happened or what to do about it. We write articles and posts and tweets, but in a fundamental way we don’t know how to understand and harness the forces that emerged when he did.

He’s a Bad Apple, isn’t he?

Bad Apple! That’s offensive! How dare you hit us on the head! It’s your fault! It’s our fault! It’s the tree’s fault! It’s the weather’s fault!

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? But that’s what happens when evidence of human nature rises to the surface. Because we don’t understand it, we either indulge in it or we fight against it, blaming everyone in the vicinity.

We don’t begin with, “That’s how people are. Let’s be curious about it.” We begin with “People shouldn’t be like that. Make it stop.”

As a species, we’re brilliant. We can communicate across continents and planets. We can discover new facts and use those discoveries to save and prolong lives. But in the human arena, the opposite is true. We can’t communicate across divides, and new truths don’t rise to the top.

Human nature is a force analogous to the force of gravity. It has rules that can and must be discovered, codified, taught in a complex academic trajectory, and harnessed effectively. If you want to build a bridge, you study Architecture and Engineering. If you want to build a bridge between groups of people, an analogous track is needed. A K-12- PhD curriculum in Emotional Literacy can be designed, using thought experiments of increasing complexity, without sacrificing our individuality, our humanity, our identity, or our freedom.

If a revolution in human psychology doesn’t keep up with the revolution in technology, our species is in trouble.

If you have questions or want to contribute or learn more, please contact me at Friend Alice Lombardo Maher and join the Depth Perception Party dialogue group on Facebook, follow Alice Maher on Twitter, and “like” the Hot Stove Project and the Emotional Imprint pages.

Read more, from Dr. Alice Maher and others, at the Changing Our Consciousness blog >>