Elisa Varela is a doctoral student in the Department of Communication. Her research focuses on democratic engagement across difference. Broadly, she draws on social interaction and feminist perspectives to dig into questions of discourse, difference, and democracy. In particular, she is interested in how persons in dialogue and deliberation engage in discursive practices that support and limit quality communication across difference and ultimately democratic action. Often times, well-meaning people perpetuate prejudice and polarization and the practical aim of Elisa's research is to support responsible, accountable, and critically reflexive communication practice that contributes to social change. In the spirit of democratic engagement, she welcomes conversations about these research interests and how they might be applicable in various forms of pedagogy, community activism, and everyday relationships.