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Model Intergroup Dialogue Programs

Colleges and Universities across the country are developing curricular and co-curricular programs to foster intergroup dialogue and learning on campus. Here are only a few of the more developed programs. For more examples, visit DiversityWeb (www.diversityweb.org).

University of Michigan,
Ann Arbor

The program on Intergroup Relations, Conflict, and Community (IGRCC), created in 1988, is designed to advance students' understanding of deeply rooted intergroup conflicts and to increase their skills in addressing issues related to conflict and community on campus or in their lives beyond college. Through a variety of curricular and co-curricular activities, the program provides students with an academic grounding in the scholarship of intergroup relations and conflict mediation as well as a social experience in intergroup communications and bridge-building.

The program offers several kinds of activities including: academic courses and first-year seminars in a variety of departments; co-curricular intergroup dialogue opportunities; student leadership development and staff training programs; and workshops for student organizations. Courses are offered in fields such as American Culture, Psychology, Sociology, and Women's Studies.

The dialogues, both in classes and in co-curricular workshops, usually involve two self-identified social groups. Dialogues have been sponsored between African Americans and whites; people of color and white people; African Americans and Jews; African Americans and Latinos; African American men and African American women; and gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and heterosexuals. (www.umich.edu/~igrc/)

Arizona State University

The mission of the Intergroup Relations Center (IRC) at Arizona State University (ASU), opened in 1997, is to promote positive intergroup relations among students, staff, and faculty and to improve the campus climate for diversity at ASU. The IRC focuses on intergroup dynamics within the context of an institution of higher education and promotes change in intergroup relations at the personal, group, and structural levels. The core assumption guiding the program is that diversity is an asset and can be used to enhance the growth of the ASU community while also achieving specific educational outcomes.

The IRC provides intergroup relations education and training opportunities to students, faculty, and staff as well as intergroup conflict prevention and mediation services. It sponsors retreats, workshops, seminars, and institutes for faculty, staff and students. The IRC also collects, develops, and disseminates educational resources and data on discrimination, hate crimes, and intergroup conflict incidents at ASU. It also is creating an information clearinghouse regarding prejudice and discrimination reduction programs and initiatives across campus. (www.asu.edu/provost/intergroup/)

University of Maryland,
College Park

Students at the University of Maryland (UM) have recently called for increased opportunities to participate in intergroup dialogues and to develop necessary skills to work effectively in diverse communities. As a result, the Office of Human Relations Programs (OHRP) has developed a Student Intercultural Learning Center (SILC) scheduled to open in September, 1999. SILC is conceived as a centralized programming hub. It will service student needs through educational, intercultural, and interdisciplinary programs and initiatives. SILC will make diversity-related dialogue and learning substantive and convenient for students at varying levels of both self and social awareness. Several initiatives of the SILC will be specifically aimed at educating and attracting students who have traditionally shown little or no interest in diversity-related initiatives.

SILC is partnering with several academic and non-academic units on campus including the Academy of Leadership, College Park Scholars, Comparative Literature, American Studies, and Family Studies. SILC will also offer the following for-credit courses: "Facilitating Dialogue on Race, Gender, and Ethnicity," the "-ISM Class," and "Multiculturalism in Self and Society." In addition, SILC will become the central hub for the student-related programs and initiatives offered by the Office of Human Relations Programs. These include a Diversity Training Circle, a Sexual Harassment Prevention Peer Program, a White Awareness Group, and a Conflict Mediation Peer Program. (www.inform.umd.edu/ohrp)

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University of Michigan

University of Michigan