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Dialogue Initiative

The Dialogue Initiative is a social justice education program designed to facilitate learning about social inequality, social identities, and engaging across differences. Rooted in an extensive research base, we employ engaged and critical pedagogies that help participants to learn about themselves and how they relate to others. We share dialogue pedagogy and methods with the campus through a combination of trainings, workshops, consultations, and courses. We invite you to explore our website to learn more and please contact us if you have any questions.

The Dialogue Initiative is a collaboration between Student Affairs and Academic Affairs.

In 2009, a delegation of campus leaders attended the National Institute on Intergroup Relations at the University of Michigan. This institute focused on the practice of intergroup dialogue (IGD) as an educational approach to promote engagement between people from different social identity groups. With the support from the Office of the Chancellor, these leaders Student Affairs and Academic Affairs collaborated to create the UIC Dialogue Initiative. Since its inception, the Dialogue Initiative has worked to build structured educational opportunities to increase meaningful interaction amongst our diverse community of students, staff, and faculty. The Dialogue Initiative actively seeks to build a campus community where inclusion and difference are the foundation of learning.

The UIC First-Year Dialogue Seminar (FYDS) is a keynote program of the Dialogue Initiative. Emerging as a collaboration between Student Affairs and the Office of Diversity, Equity & Engagement in 2011, and later including the University Library. The FYDS was adapted from the University of Michigan’s Program on Intergroup Relations to reflect UIC’s uniquely diverse campus. Pilot data from UIC classrooms revealed findings consistent with IGD research on student learning (Thakral et al., 2016).

Currently administered through the University Library and funded by the Office of the Provost & Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, the FYDS is a 1-credit, half-semester course required for undergraduates in the College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts, and students pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Human Development and Learning in the College of Education. The course remains a general elective for all other undergraduates.

Each year, students representing each of UIC’s undergraduate-admitting colleges enroll in the FYDS. Classes are kept small and capped at 18 students. Over 20 sections are offered annually.

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