Additional Resources on Dialogue

Dialogue is something we can both study and practice. There are many different approaches to dialogue, emerging from philosophy, education studies, mediation programs, history, religion, and restorative justice practitioners.  

The opening workshop for the ELP Faculty Fellows has been led by Essential Partners.  Their research suggests dialogue improves learning outcomes and builds civic skills.  See their resources here.

If you are looking for models of proven practices, the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation has a short guide (2014) that outlines different ways of engaging and how each model advances specific goals like exploration, conflict transformation, and decision-making.

Facing History’s Fostering Civil Discourse guide (2020) offers specific guidance for teaching remotely, in addition to describing why self-awareness, community norms, small group conversations, and reflection can advance respectful discourse.

Tufts’ Institute for Democracy and Higher Education created a facilitator’s training guide in 2016 for leading political discussions in higher education. It is full of specific exercises that can be used among faculty and staff colleagues or in the classroom.

The Thanks for Listening podcast from Harvard’s Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program has many excellent episodes. Episode 2 covers the “Can We?” project, an effort to build dialogic muscles among high school students.  Episode 9 covers a Florida-based conversation project, The Village Square.

Political theorists Archon Fung and Iris Marion Young explore in two long but accessible pieces whether deliberation or activism is more likely to advance justice.

USC School of Education professor Derisa Grant (IHE, July 15, 2020) argues we should not silo conversations about marginalized identities as especially difficult, because students bring their experiences to every conversation. Navigating these issues gets easier with practice.

The spiritual inquiry podcast On Being has developed a Civil Conversations Project, with guidelines for discussion and episodes on important themes.

Initiatives at other colleges and universities have informed the EL Project:

  • The Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University has a fellows program, a summer retreat, a program of study, and substantial research
  • A Ford Foundation initiative on difficult dialogues led to Start Talking, a guide to faculty development
  • The Open Expression Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania trains community members to protect both open speech and protest
  • Campus Compact and AAC&U supported Creating Space for Democracy, which identifies deliberation as a civic skill and offers idea for classrooms and community-connected projects
  • The Program on Intergroup Relations at the University of Michigan offers working papers and videos