I would highly recommend students take advantage of the dialogue opportunities DDG offers. Each semester they offer a handful of "sustained dialogue" groups centered around timely topics. Unlike one-time dialogues that rarely go beyond superficial or "safe" comments, DDG dialogues develop trust over seven weeks that allows for openness and honesty. This may seem like a big time commitment, but it pays off! I participated in a dialogue titled "Religion and Spirituality" my first semester on campus. It really challenged me to articulate my own story, opinions and ask good questions of others. In the end, our group had bonded so well that we met a few more times just for dinner and drinks. My interest in the dialogue process also led me to apply to be a facilitator. I attended the training last September and co-facilitated my first dialogue titled "[Un]Equal Opportunities."
The topics change each semester as they are chosen by the facilitators. Look for the announcements about topics, times and applications.
Even if you aren't an IPCR or SIS student, dialogue with DDG is an excellent experience, personally and professionally.
Here's a bit more about DDG and their approach to dialogue:
What is Dialogue? While dialogue can mean many things, DDG defines it as a sustained, collaboratively structured conversation where participants from one, two, or more "social identity groups" speak from their personal experience and explore both the differences and the common ground that exist among them. In dialogue, we are interested in listening to understand rather than serial monologuing, which can happen in discussion, or listening to gain advantage, which typically happens in debate. In dialogue, we do not try to convince others of our points of view; there is no emphasis on winning, but rather on learning, collaborating and creating new and shared understanding.
Who are We? The Dialogue Development Group (DDG) is a recognized student-run organization at American University (AU) whose mission is to build community, heal divisions, create new knowledge, and promote civic engagement (local, national and international), through the development, application, and institutionalization of dialogue programs on campus. A second and equally important aim of DDG is to provide dialogue facilitation, skill-building, education, and research opportunities to American University graduate students. While the university campus is its primary focus, DDG designs programs in ways that support interdependence and connection with the wider local, national and international community.
How do I participate? Any member of the AU community (students, faculty, staff, alumni) is welcome to participate in our dialogue groups. DDG holds sustained dialogue groups on a variety of topics that run for seven consecutive weeks. The dialogue groups meet once per week, for 2 ½ hours. All dialogue groups are facilitated by trained graduate students and alumni under faculty supervision.
- Create a culture of dialogue on campus through the institutionalization and development of both curricular and extra-curricular dialogue programs.
- Provide education, training and practical experience in dialogue facilitation to students.
- Be a model, bridge, resource and support to AU and the wider community on how to overcome alienation, fragmentation, polarization, division and civic disengagement.