2018 Conference Session Descriptions

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Session Overview

  • Breakout Session 1 –  Thu, Oct 18, 10:45am-12:15pm
  • Breakout Session 2 –  Thu, Oct 18, 1pm – 2:30pm
  • Breakout Session 3 –  Thu, Oct 18, 2:45pm – 4:15pm
  • Breakout Session 4 –  Fri, Oct 19, 10:15am – 11:45am


Session Descriptions

Thursday, October 18

Breakout Session 1 – 10:45am – 12:15pm

A. Cultivating Community in the Undergrad Classroom

  • Description: “So You Want to Change the World: Foundations of Community Engagement” is an undergraduate course designed to support students in interrogating their assumptions, examining their own place in their communities and in the world, and interacting with others. In this interactive workshop, attendees will participate in some of the community building and dialogue activities of the course while learning about its structure (class conversation via blog, in-person dialogue, etc.). We’ll take advantage of the collective expertise and experience of those present to explore what and how course practices can support students with different identities as they engage with difficult topics.
  • Presenters: Melissa Levy, Assistant Professor, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia, and Kim Rieder,  Student  Participant and TA for the course.

B. Digital Devils: Cyberbullying in Higher Education, and Strategies to Unplug Incivility.

  • Description: This interactive workshop, based on empirical research, will begin with findings from a recent study about adult cyberbullying in higher education. In 2018, 730 higher education professionals were asked about their experiences with bullying and cyberbullying; 58% reported being affected by bullying and 42% reported being affected by cyberbullying. This workshop will open with a 20-minute discussion on cyberbullying and how it affects productivity and wellness (anxiety, stress, depression) in higher education. The remaining 70 minutes will include case studies. We will break into groups to discuss individual and organizational policy strategies to curtail adult cyberbullying.
  • Presenter: Leah P. Hollis, Assistant Professor, Department of Advanced Studies, Morgan State University.

C. Dialogue During Campus Crisis: Supporting Students & Facilitators

  • Description: Join a group of facilitators discuss strategies for addressing difficult conversations during an active crisis – be it a critical national event or a localized university hate/bias incident. This interactive session provides an overview of how the University of Maryland continues to experiment and modify its approach to engage students to provide information, to teach self-awareness, and to learn inclusive skills.  Secondly, the facilitators will describe methods they use to monitor personal triggers and which self-care techniques have been successful in preventing care/compassion fatigue.
  • Presenter: Carlton E Green, Director, Diversity Training and Education, Office of Diversity & Inclusion, University of Maryland will lead a group of facilitators from multiple dialogue programs in conversation with the audience.


Breakout Session 2 – 1pm – 2:30pm

A. Managing Productive Tension in Intergroup Dialogues: The Role of Guidelines and Facilitator Training in Encouraging Participants to "Lean into Discomfort"

  • Description: Participants in this interactive session will share their experiences with Intergroup Dialogues both on campuses and in the larger community. Workshop organizers will reflect on a) a multiyear initiative conducting community-based interracial Dialogues on Race and how facilitator training evolved to promote “embracing discomfort” in this challenging work and b) initial research findings re: the role of “optimal tension” in difficult dialogues. Group discussions will explore “leaning into discomfort” and reflect on differences between (dis)comfort and safety. Additionally, in this digital age when conversation norms are fractured, strategies for developing and implementing dialogue “guidelines” will be explored. This session will combine brief presentations by workshop organizers with both small and large group discussions. The purpose will be to compile experiences and strategies for designing difficult intergroup dialogues that promote optional self-reflection, learning and empathy through the mechanisms of dialogue guidelines, facilitation and facilitator training.
  • Claudia E. Cohen, Ph.D., Adjunct Associate Professor, Morton Deutsch International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution, Social-Organizational Psychology- Teachers College, Columbia University. Allegra Chen-Carrel, M.A., D. student, Social Organizational Psychology Program, Columbia University.

B. How to Be Ebony in the Ivory Tower: A Typology for Marginalized Instructors

  • Description: The presenter offers a conceptual framework to decipher marginalization in primarily white institutions (PWIs) in general, and resistance in PWI classrooms in particular. In addition, she articulates a Levels Theory for Marginalized Instructors as a practical typology to assist excluded professors in reflecting on, and reconciling, oppressive environments in order to continue in the PWI university classroom environment and thrive in one’s career. Those who bemoan: “How does one acquire…the self-confidence, discipline, and perseverance necessary for success without an undue reliance on the mainstream for approval and acceptance” (West, 1993, pp. 24-25), this 60-minute interactive workshop is for you.
  • Presenter: Valerie Hill-Jackson, Clinical Professor, Teaching, Learning and Culture,Texas A&M University.

 C. Beyond Talk: Building and Sustaining a 24/7 Dialogic Community

  • Description: This session focuses on the importance of building dialogic communities. While formal dialogues, workshops, classes, and retreats can be powerful experiences, another transformative approach is participation in 24/7, living dialogic communities in which students communicate, deliberate, and dialogue with respect and openness. The session will focus on the Michigan Community Scholars Program, an academic/residential learning community at the University of Michigan, which embraces the notion of an engaged, multicultural, dialogic community. Presenters will describe the community, how it functions and responds to challenges, and the longer term impact. Participants will brainstorm and share their own efforts to build dialogic communities.
  • Presenter: David Schoem, Director, Adj. Associate Professor, Michigan Community Scholars Program, Sociology, University of Michgan.

D. Deciphering What’s Happening on Your Social Media Platforms– Build Your Digital Toolbox

  • Description: During this how to session, participants will see what tools are available to a “lay” person to conduct a sentiment analysis on their social media sites. Using the DDNRC Facebook site as the subject, Jobi Martinez will review what the sentiment analysis reveals about visitors to the site, trends in comments, and other information.  The goals of sentiment analysis vary from sites and organizations, but participants will leave with a sense of what is possible.   You may wish to create individual benchmarks, or improve your communication strategy with tailored messaging, or you are simply curious about what else you and your programs can do with this type of data.
  • Presenter: Jobi Martinez, Instructor, College of Media and Communication, Texas Tech University.


Breakout Session 3 – 2:45pm – 4:15pm

A. Sharing Stories Without Feeling Vulnerable: Breaking Barriers and Building Strength and Courage!

  • Description: This interactive workshop will utilize effective learning tools to break down barriers about the harmful effects of stereotypes and microaggressions and begin an open dialogue about identity and learning who we are as individuals. The workshop will discuss how to recognize defensive behaviors, feelings and fears that block effective communication. Through the art of Storytelling it will reveal how a person cares and why they should care about each other and how to engage in dialogue without harming who we are as a person. Participants will have the opportunity to learn how to build community and understand how to effectively maneuver living in a digital world during times of strife and unrest. Finally the workshop will discuss how the experiences that we bring with us to every conversation can affect who we are as a person, how we engage with others and how this shapes our overall experiences in the world.
  • Presenter: Terri Johnson, Assistant Dean for Student Multicultural Affairs, Office of Diversity Education, Southwestern University.

B. Transformation from the Inside-Out: Encouraging Difficult Conversations while Transforming Campus Climate

  •  Description: Transformative Intergroup Dialogue (TIGD) includes the development of a consciousness about individual and group social identities, behaviors, fears, and power relationships and creates connections across differences and conflicts by building caring and reciprocal relationships where participants can learn to listen for understanding, speak openly, take risks, explore differences and conflicts, discover common ground, and build coalitions for social action. Participants will have a greater understanding of TIGD and ways to explore: • Commonalities and differences within and between groups • Differences in privilege and discrimination between groups • Intergroup conflicts, and positive uses/opportunities of conflict • Possibilities for alliances and coalitions between groups.
  • Presenter: Mario C. Browne, Office of Health Sciences Diversity, SVC Health Sciences, University of Pittsburgh.

C. Color-Blind Racial Attitudes among Social Work Students: Exploration of Individual and Social Network Correlates.

  • Description: This research presentation describes findings from a study exploring racial attitudes among social work students and identifies personal and social network correlates of such attitudes. 163 white social work students in a major Midwest public university were recruited via social work list serve to complete an anonymous online survey measuring personal-level characteristics (e.g., demographic information and racial attitudes) and social network composition (e.g., information regarding network diversity). Using descriptive analysis and linear regression models, researchers found that age, political ideology, social network composition, and diversity experiences affected students’ racial attitudes. Implications for social work educators, both in-seat and online, are discussed.
  • Presenters: Dr. Laura Danforth, Assistant Professor in Social Work, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Hsun-Ta Hsu, University of Missouri – Columbia, Dr. John Miller, Jr., Benedict College.

D. Controversial Topics and Difficult Dialogues:  Effectively Engaging Students in Critical Conversations.

  •  Description: Faculty, staff and administrators often report a tendency to avoid controversial topics or to freeze when charged topics surface because they lack the necessary confidence and skills to ensure productive discussions. In this interactive workshop, participants will focus on learning strategies to effectively engage controversial topics in the learning environment. Specifically, participants will learn how to 1) explore and practice strategies for effectively introducing controversial topics and difficult dialogues in the learning environment; 2) briefly examine the rights and responsibilities of academic freedom, and 3) discuss how to effectively respond to unexpected controversy and/or disruptive students. The workshop is based on the University of Alaska Anchorage publication Start Talking: A Handbook for Engaging Difficult Dialogues in Higher Education (2008), which is available free of charge at the UAA Difficult Dialogues website: http://www.difficultdialoguesuaa.org/handbook/landing
  • Presenter: Libby Roderick, Director, Difficult Dialogues Initative, University of Alaska Anchorage.


Friday, October 19

Breakout Session 4 – 10:15am – 11:45am

A. SISTERS: White Greek Sororities & Race

  •  Description: SISTERS is a web-based documentary film project about racial discrimination within the “white Greek” college sororities. In an interactive workshop format, we will present the first film in the series, “Never About Race” (15 min), and use a discussion board in real time to invite comments and explore the issues raised in the film. With a flipped-classroom approach, we will then break into small groups that will use the comments, along with additional internet resources, to discover inclusive campus models and apply what they learn to their own institution. Highlights will be shared at the end of the session.
  • Presenters: Kathryn Smith Pyle, SISTERS Project Director, School of Social Policy & Practice, U. of Pennsylvania, and colleagues.

B. WeListen Discussion: Free Speech

  • Description: WeListen is a grassroots organization working to bridge the American political divide through small-group conversation. Our goal is to spark political discussion (not debate!) between individuals from across the political spectrum. The diverse dialogue that WeListen fosters goes far beyond easing political tension. We are creating a more connected community that values divergent viewpoints as an opportunity to learn. Seeking common ground on some of the most divisive topics in politics hones skills that are essential in all facets of life. WeListen members learn to communicate across difference, reflect on their viewpoints, and navigate difficult discussions with respect and compassion. This will be an interactive workshop where our team facilitates intimate values-based discussions among participants. Our presentation will include a content overview, small group conversations, and a whole-group debrief.
  • Presenters: Alli Berry, Co- President,  Student Org, University of Michigan, Nick Tomaino, University of Michigan, and additional colleagues.

C. Using Tools from Sustained Dialogue in Your Context

  • Description: Sustained Dialogue is a highly adaptable intergroup dialogue model based on the work of Dr. Harold Saunders. Students, faculty, staff, and administrators participate to move from dialogue to action on community conflicts, especially those involving social identity, on 63 college campuses globally. In this interactive presentation, we will share profiles of varied campuses using the SD model and lessons for spreading dialogue-based identity work formally and informally. The session will also include key elements, concepts, and values of the model and a ready-to-implement activity to take home. This session should particularly benefit those considering implementation of intergroup dialogue processes within civic engagement programs for students, faculty, staff, administrators, and campus leaders.
  • Presenter: Rhonda Fitzgerald, [email protected], Managing Director, Sustained Dialogue Campus Network, Sustained Dialogue Institute

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