DU's Voices of Discovery dialogues are modeled on the 20+ year-old, award-winning program at the University of Michigan. Based on extensions of Allport's Contact Hypothesis, the program brings together small, diverse groups (no more than 20 participants per group) to engage in honest, reflective, face-to-face dialogue around a particular set of group identities (e.g., gender, race/ethnicity) and/or diversity-related topics (worldview, perceptions in the media, etc). The program consists of five weekly sessions (two hours per week) held during the middle of the quarter, led by a pair of trained facilitators, usually graduate students.
A recent multi-year, national research study has demonstrated the efficacy of intergroup dialogue for engaging these social issues and developing critical thinking skills. (See Voices of Discovery: context.) Regular national employer surveys (e.g., NACE) also note their need for college graduates with strong communication skills and experience working in groups and across difference.
Over the last 10+ years at DU, more than 60 faculty have had their students participate; and we invite DU instructors, program coordinators and their students to benefit by writing Voices into your course(s) and programs.
We hope to extend Voices to multiple quarters. We typically have one section focus on gender, and attempt to offer sections highlighting race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, faith/religion, ability and other salient identities. (Please note that specific offerings vary by quarter based on facilitator availability, student/faculty interest and current events; we cannot guarantee any particular topic or time will "make.") With advance notice, we may also be able to coordinate groups focused on other specific identities or issues, or perhaps collaborate on an adaptation for your entire class/cohort of students.
As a faculty participant, you:
- Write Voices into your class as a for-credit project option (see below), specifying that students need to attend and participate in all 5 sessions . (If you require less than that full attendance, students will skip sessions, will miss the developmental nature of the curriculum and therefore program benefits, and will disrupt the group dynamics for all participants.)
- Make course-related assignments as appropriate (e.g. reflection journal), allowing your students to make explicit connections between course content and the dialogue application, and you to assess and grade that work.
Service learning reflections and research papers have also been offered as alternatives among which students can choose. Other co-curricular options you might provide alongside Voices are the English Language Center's Conversation Partners (contact Kanoe Wentworth), or ISSS' Pioneer to Pioneer (P2P) program.
You can restrict your students to certain identity/issue sections (as offered) for class credit. However, due to varying student and group schedules and group headcount limits, we cannot guarantee in advance that any particular time/topic will "make" or that all applicants can be matched into groups that fit their availability due to other classes, work, etc. For these reasons, we strongly suggest offering Voices among other options.
Campus organizations and programs (e.g., scholarships) are also invited to encourage their members to participate as part of their involvement.
- Apply online, indicating their schedule availability.
- Commit to attending and participating in all 5 assigned sessions.
- Receive all dialogue-related materials (brief readings, handouts, etc.) and light meal each session, for FREE.
- Submit your required assignments to you, for you to assess and assign credit/grade.
At your request, we can provide you with:
- A sample syllabus blurb (for your reference to use or adapt).
- A speaker to make a brief (<5minute) in-class pitch for the program.
- An attendance record for each student.
- A professional letter for you, cc'd to your Dean/Department chair and the Provost, for your support of this expanded learning opportunity.
If you have questions, and/or are interested in connecting your upcoming course/program, please feel free to contact our office, 303.871.4614 or firstname.lastname@example.org.