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PACH Receives Research Grant to Fund: The Listening Project, A Whole-School Approach


The Project for the Advancement of Our Common Humanity (PACH) at the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools has received a project grant of $750,000 from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation to continue their work with The Listening Project (LP) in schools across New York City. This grant will expand the LP’s current middle school model that entails a 26 lesson unit in 7th grade English classes to one in which the LP is integrated into advisory groups and English and Humanities classrooms at multiple grade levels in middle and high schools. Multi-method and new forms of evaluation for whole school approaches of the LP will be developed and tested. The PIs on the grant are Drs. Niobe Way (lead PI), Hirokazu Yoshikawa, Joseph Nelson, and Jinjoo Han.

The Listening Project (LP) was created as a means to address the crisis of connection in schools, evident by the high rates of harassment, discrimination, bullying, depression, anxiety, and loneliness reported by students and teachers in middle and high schools across the country. The LP addresses the crisis by teaching students and teachers a method of “transformative interviewing” that allows them to see each other, as well as their peers and families, outside of a set of stereotypes and thereby build deeper human connections. The LP draws from the knowledge and curiosity of students, families, and teachers in creating a more just and humane school climate. Grounded in the science of human connection (Way, Ali, Gilligan, & Noguera, 2018), our theory of change is that transforming the way we see each other will transform the way we treat each other.

Findings from a pilot study of the LP with 7th grade students across seven public middle schools indicate that the LP enhances listening skills, interpersonal curiosity, empathy, connectedness with peers, a sense of a common humanity among students while reducing conformity to norms of masculinity. The LP appears to be associated with an improvement in academic engagement, as self-reported by the students. Our analysis of qualitative data suggests that relationships have been transformed in and out of the classroom, with many students and teachers reporting that they have grown closer to their family and friends as a result of learning how to ask questions of each other and listen more closely.

PACH is housed at the Metro Center at New York University and engages in communicating and conducting research that contributes to the emerging field of the science of human connection. PACH also designs community-based interventions, such as The Listening Project, to create a more just and humane world. For more information about the Listening Project, please write to Holly Van Hare, the director of The Listening Project (