Class on intergroup dialogue delivers community, collaboration
 
 
Every Wednesday afternoon, a group of students gathers at the Rat. They’re not there to drink—though, sure, some may order snacks.

In a second-story conference room—against the backdrop of muffled music and order calls from the restaurant below—11 students and two professors, Miriam Lipsky and Renee Dickens Callan, meet for a workshop on intergroup dialogue.

Their goal in the debut course, which focuses on race and ethnicity, is not to learn how to win an argument, but how to walk away from a conversation and be able to say, “I understand where you’re coming from,” said Lipsky, assistant provost for institutional culture.

In lieu of lectures and PowerPoints, students complete readings, write weekly journal entries and engage each other in face-to-face conversation on the topic at hand.

“We have touched on a lot of very sensitive subjects,” said sophomore Bersabeh Mesfin, a psychology and human and social development double major. “We do a lot of activities to really understand more about ourselves as individuals—kind of just how to be able to interact with people that have differing opinions but still have a productive dialogue.” 
 
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