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 Tuesday, August 26, 2008 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter

IN THE SPOTLIGHT


CU Dialogue Network: a resource for understanding
by Joanna Nasar, graduate student, Environmental Journalism

The Dialogue Network is a group of CU-Boulder faculty, staff and students who are passionate about promoting dialogue as one strategy for dealing with difficult conversations that may arise in our campus community.

The idea for Dialogue Network developed after 9/11, when the Building Community Campaign set up rooms with facilitators so that campus members could talk about how they were impacted by the event. Afterward everyone realized how valuable it was for the campus community to facilitate conversation on difficult topics. A group of dedicated individuals from all arenas of campus decided to form a dialogue resource complete with trained facilitators. “We worked to create a complete resource,” said Barbara Ann Kulton, a dialogue network facilitator and director of the Women’s Resource Center.

Since its inception, the network – a Student Affairs initiative – has hosted conversations on everything from the Israeli and Palestinian conflict to a discussion about the movie, “Crash.” Alexis Smith, a senior journalism major, attended one of the “Crash” dialogues as a freshman. “I remember there was a lot of discussion around the movie, and as a freshman, I was afraid to examine race and class,” Smith said. “To sit in a room and candidly talk about these issues was a new experience.” Afterward, Smith took the skills she learned and applied them in her work as UCSC diversity director and first generation peer mentor by hosting a series of talks on race. “I learned how to foster dialogue and have conversations around race and gender,” she said. Smith will assist with a few of the workshops this year.

This fall from Sept. 11 to Nov.12 students, faculty and staff are invited to a series of discussions on the presidential election hosted by Dialogue Network. The dialogue, “Election 2008: It’s About All of Us” aims to expand perceptions of the election and enhance understanding of the impact on individuals and groups within the campus community. The series will be held in different locations and at various times on campus and one session will be conducted in Spanish in order to accommodate as much participation as possible, Kulton said.

Kulton believes that Dialogue Network, in conjunction with other university programs, is a valuable resource. “It is a great tool toward creating a socially just campus,” Kulton said. In the future the network hopes to grow and continue to host conversations central to the campus community. To learn more about Dialogue Network, see a schedule of upcoming discussions and get involved, visit the website.

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