/ Communication Department

Intergroup Dialogue

Explore social group identity, social justice, communication across differences, conflict and community through courses and workshops in intergroup dialogue.

Participants learn specific communication skills that guide a group in interaction across cultural identity differences. These skills emphasize understanding over persuasion. This means that participants seek to understand each other without evaluating or judging each other, and without imposing their own views, values and identities on others. The Intergroup Dialogue process includes:

  • Substantive educational readings that de-bunk myths associated with social identity groups
  • Interactive exercises to simulate the experience of one’s own and others’ identities
  • Group discussions adhering to agreed-upon communication guidelines that promote a confidential, safe, and open environment for sharing
  • Progress (emotionally and intellectually) through four stages:
    • Identity development
    • Power and privilege
    • Working through conflicts
    • Being an ally for social justice
The Intergroup Dialogue Model emphasizes preparation of participants and balance of power dynamics.
  • Co-facilitators represent both dominant and non-dominant cultural identities
  • Trained facilitators have studied and/or taken courses to develop understanding of group dynamics and communication skills
  • Groups are constructed to represent balanced numbers of participants identifying with the dominant and non-dominant identity that is the focus of the dialogue
  • One social identity topic is selected for the dialogue so that interaction may be more in-depth and delve into more substantive issues
  • The dialogue is structured according to a progression of learning outcomes
  • Ideally, the dialogue is sustained over time for a period of at least six weeks so that conflict and issues that arise may be fully addressed

Research studies have demonstrated significant effects of Intergroup Dialogue on participants’ intergroup understanding, intergroup relations, and intergroup collaboration.* Specifically, research on college and university Intergroup Dialogue courses show significant differences in student outcomes, compared to student enrollment in other diversity-related social science courses, on measures of:

  • Awareness of structural understanding of inequality
  • Identity engagement
  • Empathy
  • Motivation to bridge differences
  • Anticipated post-college involvement in addressing inequality
  • Confidence and frequency of taking action for social justice

*Source: Diversity & Democracy Vol. 12, No. 1. Association of American Colleges & Universities

Learn more

In the communication department, students can develop Intergroup Dialogue skills by enrolling in COMM 240 – Intergroup Dialogue (fall semester) and continuing their development by enrolling in  COMM 340: Practicum (spring semester). 

Contact Dr. Deirdre Johnston for additional opportunities or if you would like to organize a special workshop for your class or organization.