The CU Dialogues Program facilitates conversations primarily in CU classes and other campus settings that enable students and other members of the CU community to explore issues pertinent to the subject matter of the class or the community requesting the dialogue. The Program holds Classroom Dialogues in CU classrooms. Outreach Dialogues are held at other campus and off-campus settings.
A classroom dialogue is a facilitated conversation that provides an opportunity for participants to share their experiences and speak from their own perspectives while also challenging participants to understand why they hold a perspective. A dialogue is both an introspective and sharing process which allows differing viewpoints to be held side-by-side. The goal is for participants to gain a deeper understanding of their own and others’ perspectives on a topic or issue. A dialogue does not aim to persuade or push a certain perspective but to help participants understand varying viewpoints. The facilitator helps promote introspection and critical thinking about the perspectives participants hold.
A facilitated classroom dialogue is an effective pedagogical tool for addressing complex and/or contentious issues within a classroom setting. Facilitated dialogue fosters thoughtful discussion based on mutual exploration of the many different perspectives that participants hold. Classroom dialogues support meaningful learning on the part of students. The process of dialogue encourages students to raise key questions, fosters personal reflection, raises awareness of multiple perspectives, and can motivate students to become more involved in their communities.
Dialogues are held in a place on campus or in the wider community that is logical for the population attending the dialogue. This may be within a classroom, in a residence hall, or in a separately scheduled space on or off campus. The Program works with the dialogue requester to identify and secure the best space for the dialogue.
Any member of the CU-Boulder community--whether a faculty member, a student, an administrator, or a staff member--may schedule a dialogue.
Dialogues are highly effective in bridging differences based on ethnic or cultural background, socio-economic status, level of education, age, ability or other group identity factors. Person-to-person exchange fosters respect for individuals and builds a sense of community. Dialogues are especially well suited for fostering thoughtful discussion of complex issues and topics.
Dialogue facilitators do not seek to resolve conflicts. A dialogue encourages open and respectful exchange across differences. Participants in a dialogue may address contentious issues or raise uncomfortable topics, but the facilitator lets participants themselves speak to these issues/topics and guides them through a discussion that explores their different perspectives.
Dialogues are different than classroom discussions in that their goal is not for students to understand specific facts or discuss content for the purpose of remembering information. The goal of a dialogue is to provide students with an opportunity to speak from their own experiences and listen to differing perspectives that their classmates, and/or invited community participants, may hold. Dialogues add an experiential component to the classroom content; participants are encouraged to share their feelings and experiences surrounding an academic topic and to understand what may have shaped their experiences.
The CU Dialogues Program is part of CU Engage, housed in the School of Education. Our primary funding comes through CU Engage. CU alumni and other friends of the University may contribute to the Dialogues Program through the CU Foundation (http://www.cufund.org/guide-to-giving/ways-to-give/).
There is no fee to hold a Classroom or Outreach Dialogue for CU-Boulder departments, units or programs. The CU Dialogues Program will negotiate a charge when developing long-term dialogue initiatives or when holding dialogues for non-CU-Boulder organizations.