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FOUR OPTIONS FOR COMPLEMENTING YOUR COURSES THROUGH THE WORDS OF ENGAGEMENT (WE) INTERGROUP DIALOGUE PROGRAM

  1. Have your students participate in an intergroup dialogue as a required "lab" or "discussion" session accent to your course.*
  2. Make participation in an intergroup dialogue one of several options for meeting your course requirements.**
  3. **Click here to access an Undergraduate Dialogue Option Insert for your syllabus. You could also use the insert as a handout.

    (If you teach graduate level courses and are interested in integrating an intergroup dialogue-based component geared for graduate students, click here to access a Graduate Dialogue Option Insert for your syllabus. You could also use the insert as an attachment.)

  4. Request copies of our student-focused intergroup dialogue informational materials to pass out in your course. Make sure students know that they can receive an academic credit for participation in an intergroup dialogue.
  5. Direct your students to the Words of Engagement (WE) Intergroup Dialogue Program website so they can learn more about intergroup dialogue on their own. www.odec.umd.edu/WE

WHAT IS INTERGROUP DIALOGUE?

Intergroup dialogue engages participants from one, two, or more "social identity groups" in a collaborative learning experience. More specifically, intergroup dialogue is a collaboratively structured form of group conversation characterized by participants' willingness to "listen for understanding." It is different from discussion, where participants generally engage in serial monologuing - each offering their perspective on a given topic, as well as from debate, where participants typically learn to "listen to gain advantage" - each seeking to trump the perspectives offered by others on a given topic. The goal of intergroup dialogue is for participants in it to build increased intra- and cross-group awareness, knowledge, and understanding leading to collective engagement in action for social justice.

UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND'S INTERGROUP DIALOGUE PROGRAM

The Office of Diversity Education and Compliance (ODEC) established the Words of Engagement (WE) Intergroup Dialogue Program in response to University of Maryland undergraduate student focus group research results in which students across race expressed dissatisfaction with the campus' curricular and co-curricular diversity efforts. While most students cited the university's demographic diversity as a major factor in their decision to enroll, once on campus, many students felt the sting of self-segregation and believed the institution's multicultural education programs and courses did little to enable them to develop skill in, and comfort for, cross-group interaction and relationship building.

Since its inception in the Spring of 2000, over 1,200 undergraduate students have participated in the Words of Engagement (WE) Intergroup Dialogue Program, for which they began being able to earn academic credit through the Department of Education Policy and Leadership in the Fall of 2001. Over 100 graduate students, staff, and faculty members have been formally trained as program facilitators. And, over 100 dialogues on 50 different topics have been offered. Through all of the program’s assessment and evaluation endeavors, student participants routinely report that their intergroup dialogue experience was the single most important, meaningful, and useful educational experience they have ever had, because it helped them to connect theories of social justice learned in the classroom to the real-world practice of social justice in a variety of professional contexts.

INTERESTED IN LEARNING HOW TO INTEGRATE AN INTERGROUP DIALOGUE-BASED APPROACH IN YOUR TEACHING?

Work one-on-one, in pairs, and/or in small groups with Office of Diversity Education and Compliance staff to learn how.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Please contact Beth Douthirt-Cohen, Ph.D., bdc1@umd.edu.

 

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