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Dialogue Across Difference

Dialogue Across Difference: Practice, Theory, and Research on Intergroup Dialogue

Patricia Gurin
Biren (Ratnesh) A. Nagda
Ximena Zúñiga
Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 500
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  • Book Info
    Dialogue Across Difference
    Book Description:

    Due to continuing immigration and increasing racial and ethnic inclusiveness, higher education institutions in the United States are likely to grow ever more diverse in the 21st century. This shift holds both promise and peril: Increased inter-ethnic contact could lead to a more fruitful learning environment that encourages collaboration. On the other hand, social identity and on-campus diversity remain hotly contested issues that often raise intergroup tensions and inhibit discussion. How can we help diverse students learn from each other and gain the competencies they will need in an increasingly multicultural America?Dialogue Across Differencesynthesizes three years' worth of research from an innovative field experiment focused on improving intergroup understanding, relationships and collaboration. The result is a fascinating study of the potential of intergroup dialogue to improve relations across race and gender.

    First developed in the late 1980s, intergroup dialogues bring together an equal number of students from two different groups - such as people of color and white people, or women and men - to share their perspectives and learn from each other. To test the possible impact of such courses and to develop a standard of best practice, the authors ofDialogue Across Differenceincorporated various theories of social psychology, higher education, communication studies and social work to design and implement a uniform curriculum in nine universities across the country. Unlike most studies on intergroup dialogue, this project employed random assignment to enroll more than 1,450 students in experimental and control groups, including in 26 dialogue courses and control groups on race and gender each. Students admitted to the dialogue courses learned about racial and gender inequalities through readings, role-play activities and personal reflections. The authors tracked students' progress using a mixed-method approach, including longitudinal surveys, content analyses of student papers, interviews of students, and videotapes of sessions. The results are heartening: Over the course of a term, students who participated in intergroup dialogues developed more insight into how members of other groups perceive the world. They also became more thoughtful about the structural underpinnings of inequality, increased their motivation to bridge differences and intergroup empathy, and placed a greater value on diversity and collaborative action. The authors also note that the effects of such courses were evident on nearly all measures. While students did report an initial increase in negative emotions - a possible indication of the difficulty of openly addressing race and gender - that effect was no longer present a year after the course. Overall, the results are remarkably consistent and point to an optimistic conclusion: intergroup dialogue is more than mere talk. It fosters productive communication about and across differences in the service of greater collaboration for equity and justice.

    Ambitious and timely,Dialogue Across Differencepresents a persuasive practical, theoretical and empirical account of the benefits of intergroup dialogue. The data and research presented in this volume offer a useful model for improving relations among different groups not just in the college setting but in the United States as well.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-805-5
    Subjects: Education, Sociology, Psychology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xviii)
  6. INTRODUCTION Intergroup Dialogue and the Multi-University Intergroup Dialogue Research Project
    (pp. 1-8)
    Patricia Gurin, Biren (Ratnesh) A. Nagda and Ximena Zúñiga

    These statements are extracted from narratives students wrote about their experiences learning about race-ethnicity and gender in intergroup dialogue (IGD). Intergroup dialogue is a facilitated educational effort that brings an equal number of students from two social identity groups—white students and students of color, men and women—together in quarter- or semester-long, credit-earning courses. Since their inception in the late 1980s, intergroup dialogues have sought to educate students proactively to understand and work with intergroup conflicts that are not only historical and structural but persistent and present in their daily college lives. IGD aims for students to gain knowledge...

  7. CHAPTER 1 Intergroup Dialogue: Its Role in Contemporary Society
    (pp. 11-31)
    Patricia Gurin, Biren (Ratnesh) A. Nagda, Cookie White Stephan and Walter G. Stephan

    In this chapter, we position intergroup dialogue (IGD) within the programs and studies on intergroup relations and discuss what motivated the research on which this book is based. We discuss both why talking across differences of race-ethnicity and gender in more than superficial ways has proven difficult, and how intergroup dialogue addresses those difficulties. We also look at broader challenges facing the United States and particularly higher education that underscore the importance of intergroup dialogue in contemporary society.

    Intergroup dialogues have evolved from a long tradition of programs designed to improve intergroup relations. These programs first appeared after World War...

  8. CHAPTER 2 The Practice of Intergroup Dialogue
    (pp. 32-73)
    Biren (Ratnesh) A. Nagda and Patricia Gurin

    In this chapter, we describe more fully the intergroup dialogue (IGD) practice model that addresses the divides and challenges of talking across and about race and gender highlighted in chapter 1. We have four goals: to place the foundations of intergroup dialogue in the context of social psychological research on intergroup relations and of multicultural education concerned with diversity and social justice; to draw on approaches to reflective, relational, and integrative learning that inform and undergird dialogue pedagogy; to show how intentional intergroup interactions can be supported by content and facilitation to achieve the major goals of IGD; and to...

  9. CHAPTER 3 A Critical-Dialogic Theoretical Framework for Intergroup Dialogue
    (pp. 74-122)
    Biren (Ratnesh) A. Nagda, Patricia Gurin, Nicholas Sorensen and Kathleen Wong (Lau)

    In the previous chapter, we described the critical-dialogic practice model of intergroup dialogue (IGD). The pedagogical features of IGD—content learning, structured interaction, and facilitation—are intentionally integrated to foster communication processes that play the central theoretical role in how IGD increases intergroup understanding, intergroup relationships, and intergroup collaboration.

    As noted in chapter 1, talking about race and gender across race and gender is challenging. Such conversations are often avoided or approached superficially, yet the rewards are great when these conversations are intentional and supported by facilitators. On college campuses, for example, students often interact across differences and power simply...

  10. CHAPTER 4 Studying Intergroup Dialogue: Using Mixed Methods
    (pp. 125-146)
    Patricia Gurin, Kathleen Wong (Lau), Nicholas Sorensen, Biren (Ratnesh) A. Nagda, Ximena Zúñiga, Kelly Maxwell and Cookie White Stephan

    In the previous two chapters, we described the practice and theoretical models that guided the intergroup dialogue (IGD) courses investigated in this project. The practice model involves an interactive pedagogy implemented across four stages. The theoretical model posits that dialogue pedagogy leads to distinctive communication processes that form the heart of intergroup dialogue. Two of these processes, which we call dialogic, focus on personal sharing of experiences and beliefs and on taking risks by disclosing uncertainties and feelings (engaging self) as well as listening and inquiry about the ideas and experiences of other members of the dialogue (appreciating difference). Two...

  11. CHAPTER 5 Effects of Intergroup Dialogue: A Focus on Processes and Outcomes
    (pp. 147-179)
    Nicholas Sorensen, Patricia Gurin, Biren (Ratnesh) A. Nagda, Walter G. Stephan, Richard Gonzalez, Gretchen Lopez and Jaclyn Rodriguez

    In chapters 2 and 3, we delineated the ways in which the critical-dialogic practice model and theoretical framework of intergroup dialogue (IGD) differ from but also integrate some features of other approaches in intergroup relations and approaches to diversity and social justice education. We also described the theoretical concepts and relationships that comprise our framework. In this chapter, we move to two central questions: Did intergroup dialogues have the predicted effects on psychological processes and outcomes? Did the process framework delineated in chapter 3 explain how intergroup dialogue had effects on these processes and outcomes?

    A true experiment is at...

  12. CHAPTER 6 Empathy in Intergroup Dialogues
    (pp. 180-210)
    Kathleen Wong (Lau), Patricia Gurin, Biren (Ratnesh) A. Nagda, Amy Carpenter Ford, Walter G. Stephan, Kelly Maxwell, Rosie Perez and Carmen McCallum

    In this chapter, we focus on empathy because it is such a vital component of intergroup relations. Empathy is viewed by many as the foundation of social life (see the discussion of empathy in chapter 3), and has always been an important goal of intergroup dialogue (IGD). As discussed in chapters 3 and 5, many studies have shown that empathy is linked to desirable outcomes such as decreased prejudice, fear, and anger toward out-groups, as well as increased intergroup contact and positive emotions toward out-groups (Pettigrew and Troop 2008, 2011; Stephan and Finlay 1999). In chapter 5, our survey data...

  13. CHAPTER 7 Engagement in Intergroup Dialogue: Listening, Speaking, and Active Thinking
    (pp. 211-242)
    Martha Stassen, Ximena Zúñiga, Molly Keehn, Jane Mildred, Keri DeJong and Rani Varghese

    These statements are drawn from students describing their meaningful learning in intergroup dialogues (IGD). Based on interviews after the end of the IGD courses, these examples illustrate that students were moved to listen, speak, and think in race-ethnicity and gender intergroup dialogues. This chapter examines the three types of engagement that emerged from an analysis of the full set of 248 interviews. These were then explored in greater depth through a systematic and grounded analysis of a smaller sample of forty interview transcripts.

    For these analyses, we defined engagement in the dialogues as a process that involved the students devoting...

  14. CHAPTER 8 Observations of Students and Facilitators: A Lens into the Practice Model of Intergroup Dialogue
    (pp. 243-280)
    Patricia Gurin, Elizabeth Meier, Biren (Ratnesh) A. Nagda and Chloé Gurin-Sands

    Chapter 7 analyzed data from interviews of students about their intergroup dialogue (IGD) experiences and revealed ways in which students recalled their engagement in IGDs—listening, speaking, and active thinking. In this chapter, we complement the interview data with videotape data of student and facilitator participation in three sessions of ten race-ethnicity dialogues and ten gender dialogues.

    The material in this chapter extends the analyses and findings from chapter 7 in two important ways made possible by videotaping the dialogues. One, we explicate what students were saying when they spoke in dialogue. We learned a great deal in chapter 7...

  15. CHAPTER 9 Evidence, Criticisms, and Conclusions for Practice, Theory, and Research
    (pp. 283-327)
    Biren (Ratnesh) A. Nagda and Patricia Gurin

    The preceding chapters in this book have articulated the rationale for intergroup dialogue (IGD) in higher education and in our society, the overall methodology of the study, and the practice and theoretical foundations of a critical-dialogic model of intergroup dialogue. Chapters reporting on the quantitative and qualitative investigation undertaken in the Multi-University Intergroup Dialogue Research (MIGR) Project addressed both the impact of intergroup dialogue and the mechanisms of change in intergroup dialogue. In respect to impact, we have shown that intergroup dialogue increases students’ intergroup understanding, strengthens positive intergroup relationships, and enhances commitment to intergroup action and collaboration. In respect...

  16. CHAPTER 10 Intergroup Dialogue: A Response to the Challenges of Demography, Democracy, and Dispersion
    (pp. 328-354)
    Patricia Gurin, Biren (Ratnesh) A. Nagda, Walter G. Stephan, Cookie White Stephan, Gary Anderson, Delia Saenz and Gloria Bouis

    In chapter 1, we argued that intergroup dialogue (IGD) is an increasingly important form of communication because the United States as a whole and higher education institutions in particular must deal with three major challenges:

    a demographic challenge arising from demographic shifts producing a much more ethnically and racially diverse United States that will be majority nonwhite by 2050 and earlier among youth,

    a democracy challenge arising from increasing inequality that raises questions for the vitality of a democracy, and

    a dispersion challenge arising from shifts in the global position of the United States as other countries assume critical roles...

  17. EPILOGUE Intergroup Dialogue Alumni in a Changing World
    (pp. 355-376)
    Patricia Gurin and Biren (Ratnesh) A. Nagda

    As we were finishing this book, it seemed only right that we end with words and lives of students who were actively involved in intergroup dialogue (IGD) as undergraduates and who have now graduated. We invited twelve graduates to share their experiences in intergroup dialogue, and all of them responded with reflection essays. These essays convey purposefulness as engaged graduates who are trying to advance social justice across a range of professional fields—medicine, nursing, social work, law, public health, business and finance, the arts, education, and public policy. They write of the continuing impact of their intergroup dialogue experiences...

  18. APPENDIX A Survey Measures
    (pp. 377-390)
  19. APPENDIX B Analytic Procedures, Effects Tables
    (pp. 391-416)
    Nicholas Sorensen
  20. NOTES
    (pp. 417-424)
    (pp. 425-462)
  22. INDEX
    (pp. 463-480)