Intergroup Dialogue Program
Intergroup Dialogue (IGD) is a social justice education pedogogy that takes seriously the presence of inequality and unfairness in the way our society is organized. The centerpiece of the program is the Intergroup Dialogue class: IGD 150. The class offers students tools to recognize and critique systems of oppression such as racism, sexism, classism, and heterosexism. By teaching intergroup dialogue skills, IGD aims to develop students’ personal capacity to disrupt and help to overturn these systems.
Dialogue is rare compared to the more typical ways people converse about social issues. For example, debate is focused on convincing the other party that your perspective or idea is correct. Discussion is focused on encouraging everyone to share and critique one another’s intellectual ideas. Both are valuable tools, but neither build the trust, shared understanding, and collaborative relationships possible with intergroup dialogue. IGD requires people to engage in active listening, share their own lived experiences, learn facts and complex theories on societal structures and development, and - perhaps most importantly - use conflict productively. Rather than avoiding conflict or disagreement, IGD teaches students how to use conflicts as important entry ways into deeper understandings of people and social issues.
What are students saying about IGD 150?
"My experience with being part of an IGD course was a very informative and personal one. Being able to discuss race relations, gender, intersectionality and the like with people from all walks of life is a powerful journey that I think we all should embark on. A big part of dialogue is story telling and how we tell our stories. And if we wish to move forward as a society, we must address and reconstruct our systems of influence, primarily education. If IGD becomes apart of the requirement for being educated, if story telling becomes a form of educating, then other systems will change and young Americans can create the United States of America that truly represents democracy, inclusiveness, diversity, and understanding in multiple facets of our society."
"In terms of social justice, if you want to really work on an issue you have to bring your authentic self to the dialogue. ...Trying to work on any issue when you are not being open and honest will not be a productive conversation. Though this makes these dialogues difficult, it allows people to be vulnerable and [build] trust. Without this trust... there is no bond between the people. "
"IGD was an eye-opening experience that demanded self-awareness and respect for everyone in the class."
About the Class
An IGD course typically focuses on one social identity category such as race, gender, sexuality, or socio-economic status (though there is always acknowledgment that multiple identities work in tandem to shape a person’s perspectives). The course gives students a chance to listen and talk with one another about how they experience and think about the consequences of their membership in that category. Students are asked to read, watch, or listen to a variety of materials (e.g., chapters from history, psychology, or sociology books, essays by noted public intellectuals, artistic pieces expressing a lived experience). They are asked to write responses to prompts designed to encourage critical thinking and reflection about their own opinions or lived experience through the lens of the assigned material. During class, they engage in structured exercises and discussion designed to deepen their understanding of the material and each other. And, of course, they are asked to employ their new knowledge and interpersonal skills to practice intergroup dialogue.
Jenna Azar, IGD Program Co-Director, was interviewed and asked to comment on IGD 150 and racism:
How do you think the class is working to dismantle institutional racism?
What do you think is the biggest thing students gain from being in the class?
Questions? Contact either of the IGD Program Directors:
Jenna Azar, M.Ed
Connie Wolfe, Ph.D.