Is there a way to create and support a more inclusive campus climate?
Adam Lauver, a doctoral student in the College of Media, Communication and Information (CMCI) and full-time research assistant in the Department of Communication, is convinced there is, and the way is through intergroup dialogues.
“Facilitating dialogues is a rich experience,” he said. “People sharing a commitment to this particular way of relating to one another is vital to the campus.”
The Intergroup Relations (IGR) Working Group is among those engaged in collaborative efforts, using dialogues as an opportunity to learn about diversity, equality and social responsibility. The IGR group develops inclusive practices on campus that include offering dialogues as part of the bi-annual Diversity and Inclusivity Summits.
The IGR group was formed in 2014 by CU Dialogues Program Co-Directors Ellen Aiken and Karen Ramirez, Assistant Vice Chancellor Alphonse Keasley, and Assistant Professor of Communication Leah Sprain. The goal of the IGR group is to create and support a more inclusive campus climate by integrating intergroup dialogue into the undergraduate experience.
IGR dialogues are facilitated conversations structured to explore topics of social group identity, conflict, community and social justice. Participants strive to create new degrees of communicating, relating and engagement. At the heart of intergroup dialogue is a chance to hear diverse voices with distinct perspectives from across campus. They serve to enrich CU Boulder as a community.
“One of the great things about the IGR group,” Lauver said, “is that it’s a grassroots, emergent campus organization committed to action and opportunities for involvement.”
Lauver joined the IGR group after observing the group’s work during the spring 2016 Diversity and Inclusion Summit. During the fall 2016 summit, he helped plan and run dialogues about inclusion and diversity. He also helped develop a guide to train volunteer facilitators.
His research interests are rhetoric and communication as they relate to social movements, social justice issues and the public sphere. He is also interested in prison education and activism, and he volunteers as a workshop facilitator at the Colorado Department of Corrections. For three years, he has taught classes in Shakespeare and creative writing to male inmates in the Denver Reception and Diagnostic Center, the intake facility for the state of Colorado. After receiving his PhD, Lauver plans to continue to volunteer in prisons and potentially teach communication in a university setting as well.
As a research assistant in the Department of Communication, Lauver has worked on projects studying engagement across difference with the CU Dialogues Program and developed tools for democratic public engagement with BoulderTalks. His research interests and his participation with these two organizations made IGR a perfect fit for Lauver.
“My interests are how people can communicate effectively and compassionately across disagreements and differences,” Lauver said. “The way we communicate informs everything, so working with the IGR group fits nicely with those interests.”
To learn more about IGR, attending the Spring 2017 Diversity and Inclusion Summit on Feb. 23 is a good place to start. A number of intergroup facilitated dialogues are included in the schedule.