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Friends in the World: Nate Gadiano on Engaging with Those Who Disagree

As the world of academia becomes increasingly polarized, parents may be concerned about sending their children off to colleges where the general culture and ethos of campus are less than favorable to the worldview and way of life found in their own homes. Yet, many of these institutions are also prestigious and hold promise for success in one’s professional career.

How, then, should parents think about sending their children to such institutions? How should students, who have decided to attend them, approach their time there? Fly under the radar? Be an argumentative warrior for what they think is true?

To help us think through some of these questions, we welcome Nate Gadiano, Executive Director of The Heights Forum. Drawing on his experience as an undergraduate at Princeton and a graduate student at Notre Dame, Nate shares his thoughts on engaging with academic communities and cultures that differ from one’s own upbringing.

This podcast discussion was occasioned by a recent talk given by Mr. Gadiano for a group of parents, in which he discussed how parents can prepare their children for different college environments. In that talk, Nate gave seven principles for engaging with others in a fruitful and friendly manner:

  1. Go where you are not welcomed.
  2. Make your beliefs normal and attractive.
  3. Don’t argue with strangers; discuss with friends.
  4. Prepare more than you plan.
  5. Find the heart of the disagreement.
  6. Think long term.
  7. Approach souls on your knees.

In the end, Nate’s message to students as they prepare for college is contained in these words: be careful that in winning an argument you don’t lose a soul; be careful that in winning a friend you don’t lose your soul.


  • 1:15 Introduction
  • 3:35 Sending your children to universities with antithetical worldviews
    • 4:32 A caveat: know yourself
    • 5:30 Digging into the why: service of souls
    • 6:08 In Our Lady’s secret service
  • 7:10 Advice for high school seniors
    • 8:10 Go where you are not welcomed
    • 10:50 Make your beliefs normal
    • 11:48 Answer contempt with compassion
  • 14:00 Finding a coach and a team
  • 16:40 Advice for difficult conversations
    • 17:20 Prepare more than you plan
    • 18:05 Have more than you show, speak less than you know
  • 19:45 On preparation
  • 22:10 On friendship with people who disagree
  • 22:45 Discovering the hidden good
  • 28:00 Is it possible for people to change their mind?

Also from the Forum

Parenting from Fear: On Reasons for Confidence with Alvaro de Vicente

The Man Fully Alive: On Our Vision with Alvaro de Vicente

When to Fight: On Fistcuffs and the Peacemaking Protector with Kyle Blackmer

Finding Mentors After Graduation: On Find Your Six with Pat Kilner

On Preparing for Bad News: Raising Men Who Can Handle It with Dr. Matthew Mehan

About the Guest

Nate Gadiano

Executive Director

Nate is the Executive Director of The Heights Forum. In addition to his work at the Forum, he has also taught Natural History in the Lower School and Writing Workshop in the Middle School; he currently leads a philosophy seminar for high school seniors.

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