Communicating Across Difference

Communicating Across Difference

Effectively Navigating Interactions in an Us vs. Them Environment

Intergroup Dialogue Project

An initiative that merges theory, research, and practice.

Intergroup dialogue is a “…facilitated conversation between members of two or more social identity groups that strives to create new levels of understanding, relating, and action”.

Ximena Zúñiga

Goals

Provide undergraduate students the opportunity to engage in facilitated, sustained conversations across identities (e.g., race, religion, gender and sexuality), ideologies, and worldviews.

Introduce undergraduate and graduate students to research and theories on intergroup dialogue and intergroup contact along with experience in facilitating and developing programs for dialoguing across difference.

Provide resources and guidance for the university and local community in developing and implementing dialogue projects and programming.

Complementing programming at the university that focuses on conversations across difference, the Intergroup Dialogue Project centers on the importance of sustained and structured interactions for promoting an inclusive campus environment.

Students and campus community members gain experience in participating in and reflecting on dialogues across difference, and students build competencies that will impact their personal, professional, and civic life.

Goals of these kind of sustained interactions range from attitude change, collective action toward a social cause, and/or more inclusive decision-making.

By focusing on theory and research about effective dialogue and intergroup contact, the project provides opportunities to refine skills in engaging in and, potentially, facilitating these discussions.

Courses

Practicing Intergroup Dialogue

Starting in Spring 2022, a 1-credit practicum course will allow students to engage in a semester of facilitated conversations with peers about salient social issues while reflecting on their own worldviews and biases, communication competencies, and identities. A conceptual framework of intergroup dialogue is introduced.

Dialogue Across Difference

Offered in spring semesters in conjunction with the Honors Program, COMM 360: Dialogue Across Difference is a 3-credit course that provides students with an in-depth overview of theorizing and research on intergroup dialogue as well as experience in engaging others on polarizing social issues. Students also develop their own intergroup dialogue project that can be implemented in subsequent semesters in the local community.

Communication and Social Identity

COMM 465: Communication and Social Identity and COMM 930: Social Identity and Intergroup Communication introduce undergraduate and graduate students to research and theorizing on social identity, communication theories on identity and intergroup communication, intergroup contact, and intergroup dialogue. Independent studies and directed readings are also available.

Opportunities

Experiential Learning

Students who have completed COMM 360: Dialogue Across Difference can assist in research related to intergroup dialogue and/or facilitating conversation sessions for academic credit.

Collaborating with the Campus and Local Community

Faculty and students associated with the Intergroup Dialogue Project can give presentations and/or consult on projects or initiatives aimed at conversations across difference. Our focus is on merging empirical research, existing programs, and inclusive practices.

Presentations

“Engaging in Conversation about Racial Inequities and Injustice”

Presented to the Academic Advising Association, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

“Intergroup Contact in Colleges & University Settings: Structuring Programs to Reduce Bias”

Presented on behalf of the University of Nebraska Office of Diversity and Inclusion

“Communication in Interfaith Families and Relationships”

Presented to the Adult Forum at First Lutheran Church in Lincoln, NE

Contact

Dr. Jordan Soliz