Building Inclusive Communities through Dialogues at MSU

Why Do We Need Dialogues at MSU?

The need for dialogue across difference is an essential life skill. We know that employers seek individuals can to work across difference.  We know that best outcomes in public and private spheres emerge when individuals have developed the ability to listen generously, to challenge previously held assumptions, to commit to active listening and dialogue especially when the dialogue is uncomfortable. And we know that through genuine human interactions, we can nurture understanding and dissipate fear.

People from different backgrounds tend to have difficulty talking to and listening to one another. Yet meaningful conversations can help people understand and engage across difference.

Dialogues at MSU positions us to be local and national leaders in using a dialogic approach to strengthen our civil society and academic community. We can directly benefit from, as well as model for others, the power of engaging people from different backgrounds, perspectives, identities, and worldviews for the common good.

What is Intercultural Dialogue?

Intercultural Dialogue, also called “Intergroup Dialogue,” “Intergroup Relations,” or “Sustained Dialogue,” has been employed over the past three decades in various forms for widely different constituencies ranging from college students in a classroom to families around their kitchen tables to international conflicts.  It is well researched, has a proven track record, and has measurable outcomes.  Developing and instituting a sustainable intercultural dialogue program unique to MSU will have significant positive impacts in many domains.

Intercultural dialogue is an interdisciplinary approach that draws upon both cognitive and affective ways of knowing to improve human relationships across different, and often oppositional identities.  Intercultural dialogue is a face-to-face learning experience that brings together people from different identity groups over a sustained period of time to:

  1. understand their commonalities and differences,
  2. examine the nature and impact of societal inequalities,
  3. explore ways of working together toward greater equality and justice, and
  4. prepare individuals to live, work, and lead in a complex, diverse stratified society

Intercultural dialogue uses a dialogic methodology that moves participants to deeper and more meaningful levels of engagement. Participants in a ‘dialogue’ benefit from being led through a series of exercises by trained facilitators in a brave space. Intercultural dialogue is designed to enhance participants’ capacities to work with people who are different than themselves.  Ultimately, if people know how to dialogue with others who are different from them, we can build truly inclusive and collaborative communities. 

Dialogues at MSU

2017-2018 Dialogue Students

Over the 2017-2018 academic year, MSU will be rolling out our “Building Inclusive Communities through Dialogues at MSU” project. The first in our dialogue series will be on race and open to students. 

Flyer for msu dialogues: race - click for flyer text
(click image to download poster)

Quotes from past participants:

“Intercultural dialogue made me aware of huge gaps in my knowledge that I had as a result of growing up in a very segregated community.  It not only taught me so much about myself and where I fit into society but also what I can do to help change society for the better.” - Michael Kosuth

 “As a person of color dialogue helped me learn how to be a better ally for others.  I honestly never thought about the work it takes to be a good ally.” - Camille Thomas

 “For me, becoming a facilitator gave me a set of skills that help me in so many situations. I now feel comfortable leading discussions, talking about hot button issues, and expressing my opinion while still validating all other opinions.”  - Maris Reid

 “In my experience as an African American woman, race is so often talked about that it gets tiring. However, being in a race dialogue is a special place.  You get to know more about your own identity, and also learn about the identities of your peers.” - Camri Nelson

 “Participating and learning about interracial dialogue have impacted me personally, professionally and socially.  I use the tools I have developed in interracial dialogues in my everyday interactions; I have become more aware of my actions and the interconnectedness of identity and human experience.”  - Elizabeth Beckett 

For more information, contact:

Dr. Donna Rich Kaplowitz
Faculty Associate
Office of Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives
Olds Hall, Room 112
(517) 432-0663