Dialogue Across Difference: Practice, Theory, and Research on Intergroup Dialogue

Russell Sage Foundation
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Due to continuing immigration and increasing racial and ethnic inclusiveness, higher education institutions in the United States are likely to grow ever more diverse in the 21st century. This shift holds both promise and peril: Increased inter-ethnic contact could lead to a more fruitful learning environment that encourages collaboration. On the other hand, social identity and on-campus diversity remain hotly contested issues that often raise intergroup tensions and inhibit discussion. How can we help diverse students learn from each other and gain the competencies they will need in an increasingly multicultural America? Dialogue Across Difference synthesizes three years’ worth of research from an innovative field experiment focused on improving intergroup understanding, relationships and collaboration. The result is a fascinating study of the potential of intergroup dialogue to improve relations across race and gender. First developed in the late 1980s, intergroup dialogues bring together an equal number of students from two different groups – such as people of color and white people, or women and men – to share their perspectives and learn from each other. To test the possible impact of such courses and to develop a standard of best practice, the authors of Dialogue Across Difference incorporated various theories of social psychology, higher education, communication studies and social work to design and implement a uniform curriculum in nine universities across the country. Unlike most studies on intergroup dialogue, this project employed random assignment to enroll more than 1,450 students in experimental and control groups, including in 26 dialogue courses and control groups on race and gender each. Students admitted to the dialogue courses learned about racial and gender inequalities through readings, role-play activities and personal reflections. The authors tracked students’ progress using a mixed-method approach, including longitudinal surveys, content analyses of student papers, interviews of students, and videotapes of sessions. The results are heartening: Over the course of a term, students who participated in intergroup dialogues developed more insight into how members of other groups perceive the world. They also became more thoughtful about the structural underpinnings of inequality, increased their motivation to bridge differences and intergroup empathy, and placed a greater value on diversity and collaborative action. The authors also note that the effects of such courses were evident on nearly all measures. While students did report an initial increase in negative emotions – a possible indication of the difficulty of openly addressing race and gender – that effect was no longer present a year after the course. Overall, the results are remarkably consistent and point to an optimistic conclusion: intergroup dialogue is more than mere talk. It fosters productive communication about and across differences in the service of greater collaboration for equity and justice. Ambitious and timely, Dialogue Across Difference presents a persuasive practical, theoretical and empirical account of the benefits of intergroup dialogue. The data and research presented in this volume offer a useful model for improving relations among different groups not just in the college setting but in the United States as well.
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About the author

PATRICIA GURIN is Nancy Cantor Distinguished University Professor Emerita of Psychology and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan. BIREN (RATNESH) A. NAGDA is associate professor of social work and Director of the Intergroup Dialogue, Education & Action (IDEA) Center at University of Washington. XIMENA ZUNIGA is associate professor of social justice education at University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Russell Sage Foundation
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Published on
Mar 15, 2013
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Pages
500
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ISBN
9781610448055
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Language
English
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Genres
Education / General
Education / Multicultural Education
Psychology / Social Psychology
Social Science / Gender Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Intergroup dialogue promotes student engagement across cultural andsocial divides on college campuses through a face-to-face,interactive, and facilitated learning experience that bringstogether twelve to eighteen students from two or more socialidentity groups over a sustained period of time. Students inintergroup dialogue explore commonalities and differences; examinethe nature and impact of discrimination, power, and privilege; andfind ways of working together toward greater inclusion, equality,and social justice.

Intergroup dialogue is offered as a cocurricular activity onsome campuses and as a course or part of a course on others. Thepractice of intergroup dialogue is considered a substantive andmeaningful avenue for preparing college graduates with theknowledge, commitment, and skills essential for living and workingin a diverse yet socially stratified society. The research evidencesupports the promise of intergroup dialogues to meet itseducational goals?consciousness raising, building relationshipsacross differences and conflicts, and strengthening individual andcollective capacities to promote social justice.

This volume outlines the theory, practice, and research onintergroup dialogue. It also offers educational resources tosupport the practice of intergroup dialogue. Addressing faculty,administrators, student affairs personnel, students, andpractitioners, this volume is a useful resource for anyoneimplementing intergroup dialogues in higher education.

This is the 4th issue of the 32nd volume of the Jossey-Bassreport series ASHE Higher Education Report Series.Each monograph in the series is the definitive analysis of a toughhigher education problem, based on thorough research of pertinentliterature and institutional experiences. Topics are identified bya national survey. Noted practitioners and scholars are thencommissioned to write the reports, with experts providing criticalreviews of each manuscript before publication.

NAACP 2017 Image Award Winner

With his trademark acerbic wit, incisive humor, and infectious paranoia, one of our foremost comedians and most politically engaged civil rights activists looks back at 100 key events from the complicated history of black America.

A friend of luminaries including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Medgar Evers, and the forebear of today’s popular black comics, including Larry Wilmore, W. Kamau Bell, Damon Young, and Trevor Noah, Dick Gregory was a provocative and incisive cultural force for more than fifty years. As an entertainer, he always kept it indisputably real about race issues in America, fearlessly lacing laughter with hard truths. As a leading activist against injustice, he marched at Selma during the Civil Rights movement, organized student rallies to protest the Vietnam War; sat in at rallies for Native American and feminist rights; fought apartheid in South Africa; and participated in hunger strikes in support of Black Lives Matter.

In this collection of thoughtful, provocative essays, Gregory charts the complex and often obscured history of the African American experience. In his unapologetically candid voice, he moves from African ancestry and surviving the Middle Passage to the creation of the Jheri Curl, the enjoyment of bacon and everything pig, the headline-making shootings of black men, and the Black Lives Matter movement. A captivating journey through time, Defining Moments in Black History explores historical movements such as The Great Migration and the Harlem Renaissance, as well as cultural touchstones such as Sidney Poitier winning the Best Actor Oscar for Lilies in the Field and Billie Holiday releasing Strange Fruit.

An engaging look at black life that offers insightful commentary on the intricate history of the African American people, Defining Moments in Black History is an essential, no-holds-bar history lesson that will provoke, enlighten, and entertain.

Four undocumented Mexican American students, two great teachers, one robot-building contest . . . and a major motion picture

In 2004, four Latino teenagers arrived at the Marine Advanced Technology Education Robotics Competition at the University of California, Santa Barbara. They were born in Mexico but raised in Phoenix, Arizona, where they attended an underfunded public high school. No one had ever suggested to Oscar, Cristian, Luis, or Lorenzo that they might amount to much—but two inspiring science teachers had convinced these impoverished, undocumented kids from the desert who had never even seen the ocean that they should try to build an underwater robot.
And build a robot they did. Their robot wasn't pretty, especially compared to those of the competition. They were going up against some of the best collegiate engineers in the country, including a team from MIT backed by a $10,000 grant from ExxonMobil. The Phoenix teenagers had scraped together less than $1,000 and built their robot out of scavenged parts. This was never a level competition—and yet, against all odds . . . they won!
But this is just the beginning for these four, whose story—which became a key inspiration to the DREAMers movement—will go on to include first-generation college graduations, deportation, bean-picking in Mexico, and service in Afghanistan.
Joshua Davis's Spare Parts is a story about overcoming insurmountable odds and four young men who proved they were among the most patriotic and talented Americans in this country—even as the country tried to kick them out.
Over the past fifteen years, a New Black Politics has swept black candidates into office and registered black voters in numbers unimaginable since the days of Reconstruction. Based on interviews with a representative sample of nearly 1,000 voting-age black Americans, Hope and Independence explores blacks' attitudes toward electoral and party politics and toward Jesse Jackson's first presidential bid. Viewed in the light of black political history, the survey reveals enduring themes of hope (for eventual inclusion in traditional politics, despite repeated disappointments) and independence (a strategy of operating outside conventional political institutions in order to achieve incorporation). The authors describe a black electorate that is less alienated than many have suggested. Blacks are more politically engaged than whites with comparable levels of education. And despite growing economic inequality in the black community, the authors find no serious class-based political cleavage. Underlying the widespread support for Jackson among blacks, a distinction emerges between "common fate" solidarity, which is pro-black, committed to internal criticism of the Democratic party, and conscious of commonality with other disadvantaged groups, and "exclusivist" solidarity, which is pro-black but also hostile to whites and less empathetic to other minorities. This second, more divisive type of solidarity expresses itself in the desire for a separate black party or a vote black strategy—but its proponents constitute a small minority of the black electorate and show surprisingly hopeful attitudes toward the Democratic party. Hope and Independence will be welcomed by readers concerned with opinion research, the sociology of race, and the psychology of group consciousness. By probing the attitudes of individual blacks in the context of a watershed campaign, this book also makes a vital contribution to our grasp of current electoral politics.

Even as lawsuits challenging its admissions policies made their way through the courts, the University of Michigan carried the torch for affirmative action in higher education.
In June 2003, the Supreme Court vindicated UM's position on affirmative action when it ruled that race may be used as a factor for universities in their admissions programs, thus confirming what the UM had argued all along: diversity in the classroom translates to a beneficial and wide-ranging social value. With the green light given to the law school's admissions policies, Defending Diversity validates the positive benefits gained by students in a diverse educational setting.
Written by prominent University of Michigan faculty, Defending Diversity is a timely response to the court's ruling. Providing factual background, historical setting, and the psychosocial implications of affirmative action, the book illuminates the many benefits of a diverse higher educational setting -- including preparing students to be full participants in a pluralistic democracy -- and demonstrates why affirmative action is necessary to achieve that diversity.
Defending Diversity is a significant contribution to the ongoing discussion on affirmative action in higher education. Perhaps more important, it is a valuable record of the history, events, arguments, and issues surrounding the original lawsuits and the Supreme Court's subsequent ruling, and helps reclaim the debate from those forces opposed to affirmative action.
Patricia Gurin is Professor Emerita, Department of Psychology, University of Michigan. Jeffrey S. Lehman, former Dean of the University of Michigan Law School, is President of Cornell University. Earl Lewis is Dean of Rackham Graduate School, University of Michigan.
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