Difficult conversations

Pears Foundation supports organisations that create spaces and teach skills for difficult conversations. We have sought out partners who are thoughtful in their approach, have clear principles and values and are committed to providing a high-quality learning experience for participants. Our goal is not to promote or advocate for any particular position, but rather to create more opportunities for people to learn how to engage with complex issues and explore multiple narratives.

It helped me to understand that there is always more than just one narrow perspective and it is important to prioritize finding solutions to help the suffering victims rather than trying to place blame on just one side.
Solutions Not Sides participant

The world is increasingly polarised and we need new skills to navigate this. We need to be able to disagree well, to ask questions and to be able to engage thoughtfully with narratives and opinions that we find challenging. We believe that skills like these can be learned and practised. The organisations we work with all help to ‘build the muscle’ for difficult conversation and equip individuals and communities with the ability to listen and learn across divides.

We give unrestricted funding to the following organisations, helping them to learn, grow and reach more people.

The Center for International Experiential Learning (CIEL)

Founded in 2021, CIEL inspires critical thinking and creative engagement to counter division and polarisation. It does this through experiential learning and immersive international travel in conflict-affected regions.

The Center brings together experienced educators and experts to organise tailored international experiential learning programmes for groups and organisations from universities to community partners, professional organisations and private individuals. The programmes are all based on CIEL’s philosophy of experiential learning rooted in intercultural exchange.

Programme participants are provided with rigorous pre-travel education and then travel to various conflict-affected regions (at present the Middle East, Northern Ireland and Vietnam) to experience and learn firsthand through interactions with conflict and post-conflict actors on all sides. Upon their return, participants are empowered to develop a deeper understanding and ongoing engagement with the region and apply lessons learned about conflict resolution. They are able use the skills they have acquired to engage in difficult conversations across divides and to address issues of division and polarisation in their local context.

Partner since: 2021
Funding invested:

Faith in Leadership

Since 2007 Faith in Leadership has been bringing together diverse groups of British faith leaders, enabling them to build their networks and learn leadership skills together, to ‘disagree productively’ and to work together for the benefit of society.

The Senior Faith Leaders Programme (SFLP) enables current Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders to deepen their leadership skills while building ongoing relationships with senior leaders from other faith groups.  The programme does not aim to create agreement on theology, politics or any other subject, nor does it aim to create a neutral middle ground. Instead, it aims to create an environment where individuals can disagree productively and intelligently on issues from antisemitism and Islamophobia to the impact of Empire on faith communities and the role of faith in British society today. In the course of learning to disagree well, participants develop leadership skills which can be effectively applied in a changing world and also often find themselves agreeing on various shared goals, thereby building long-term friendships and partnerships.

Partner since: 2015
Funding invested:

Solutions not Sides

Solutions not Sides is an education programme that provides powerful, humanising encounters, diverse narratives and critical-thinking tools to empower young people with the knowledge, empathy and skills to promote dialogue and conflict resolution, and to challenge prejudice in the UK.

Working in secondary schools and through its own student leadership programme, Solutions not Sides tackles Antisemitism, Islamophobia and polarisation around the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the UK. It enables young people to see those affected as fellow human beings, helping them to understand and embrace the complexity of the problem, and empowering them towards seeking solutions.

Solutions Not Sides’ approach is based on ten principles including willingness to accept the legitimacy of others’ personal stories and experiences and to model respectful disagreement.

Partner since: 2016
Funding to date: