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About WE --> Words of Engagement F-A-Q

What is the Intergroup Dialogue Program?
Why should I participate?
What are the Requirements?
How Do I Get Credit for Participation in the Intergroup Dialogue Program?
Who Facilitates the Dialogues?
Where did the Intergroup Dialogue Program Come From?

What is the Intergroup Dialogue Program?

The Intergroup Dialogue Program engages students in a collaboratively structured form of group conversation on the range of complex and controversial topics including race, gender, social class, religion, and sexual orientation among many others.

Intergroup dialogue is characterized by students’ willingness to “listen for understanding.” It is different from discussion, where students generally engage in serial monologuing - each offering their perspective on a given topic, as well as from debate, where students 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 to enable students to develop comfort with, and skill for, meaningful cross-group interaction, relationship building, and social action.

Dialogue participation facilitates career advancement. Research on the benefits of intergroup dialogue indicate that students who participate in them
are hired more readily, promoted faster, earn more money sooner and, acquire more advanced critical thinking skills than their peers who do not participate in them.

Why Should I Participate?

Students participate for a variety of reasons:

  • Meet new people in and out of your cultural groups who have similar or very different life experiences.
  • Supplement your coursework with a process that actively and purposefully engages your voice and experiences, and those of your classmates, in your learning.
  • Have the conversation you have always wanted to have with someone different from you.
  • Hone the intercultural and intergroup communication skills that will make you more marketable in an increasingly global economy.
  • Gain conflict reduction skills while helping forge a tighter UM community.
  • It is an exciting and transformative experience in learning to negotiate our selves in an increasingly complex world.
  • Earn Academic Credit

What are the Requirements?

Information on the course requirements can be found in the syllabus which can be viewed or downloaded on the schedule page.

How Do I Get Credit for Participation in the Intergroup Dialogue Program?

You can register for up to three dialogue credits in a single semester, and six dialogues credits total as a part of your undergraduate degree program. You can register for more than six dialogue credits, but only six will count toward your degree.

To register for dialogue credit, please follow the directions on the Registration Page. This form will allow you to identify the SPECIFIC dialogue or dialogues you want to take AND will record the TOTAL number of credits for which you want to be registered.

Who Facilitates the Dialogues?

Most dialogues are facilitated by graduate students, staff, or faculty. All facilitators are trained and experienced in the practice of dialogue facilitation and have impressive expertise in content areas relevant to their dialogues.

The social and cultural identities of facilitators reflect those of the participants. For example, a Black People/Jewish People dialogue is co-facilitated by a Black facilitator and a Jewish facilitator.

If you wish to be trained as a facilitator, read more here.

Where did the Intergroup Dialogue Program Come From?

Originally called the Intergroup Dialogue Program, the name “Words of Engagement” took form in the Fall of 2002. Historically, intergroup dialogues brought two student groups together who have possessed a history of conflict or tension on their respective campuses. Thus, the opportunity to re-name the University of Maryland’s intergroup dialogue program presented itself.

We chose the title because of the philosophy and mission that the Office of Diversity Education and Compliance dialogue program upholds. Students would engage in dialogue with peers that were from like-groups or diverse backgrounds; regardless, student participants would engage with one another in a dialogue process where participants can grow and develop through their engagement with each other.

[Special Credit to Mark Lopez, Graduate Assistant at the ODEC, who gave us the title]

The idea for Words of Engagement: An Intergroup Dialogue Program grew out of the results of a focus-group study of UM students conducted by ODEC in the Spring of 1999. Through campus assessments and research, SILC has learned that while students appreciate the diversity of the UM student body, they want and need more opportunities for meaningful interactions across difference, in a more close knit, interpersonal context. In fact, students here reported frustration with programs in which they were "talked to" about diversity issues, expressing a desire for more participatory and transformative engagement of the kind offered by Intergroup Dialogues.

Visit our Archive if you would like to read more about what we have offered in the past.