Recommendations for Effective Campus-Community Seminars
- Begin at home. Frame questions about diversity and democracy in light of your campus mission. Establish a plan drawing on local resources and develop cooperative efforts with members of the larger community.
- Include all points of view. Critics of diversity education ought to be as welcome as those who seek to enlarge public understanding of diversity. The point of democratic dialogue is to work through differences, not to suppress them.
- Support the need for new learning. The goal is not simply to discuss contentious issues, but rather to learn parts of the American past that were not previously taught.
- Establish ground rules for dialogue, dissent, and reconsideration. These exchanges may entail conflict. Leaders should know how to turn confrontation into opportunities for deeper understanding.
- Resist false dichotomies. Resist the temptation simply to celebrate diversity or to view American pluralism in dualistic polarities: unity/balkanization; integration/separation; black/white. Focus on generative complexities, rather than polarizing oppositions.
- Take leadership. Leaders can shape retreats for trustees and other community and business leaders. Establishing strong campus-community connections will help colleges and universities become meeting grounds for community learning and productive dialogue about important issues.
From Community Seminars on Diversity and Democracy: Study Dialogues for Public and Campus Learning. To receive a copy of this free publication, contact AAC&U at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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