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Dialogue Across Difference - Campus Examples

Page history last edited by Robert Hackett 3 years, 1 month ago

Front Page / Campus-Wide Integration / Dialogue Across Difference / Campus Examples



Dialogue Across Difference

Overview  |  Guides  |  Campus Examples  |  Documents to Download


Invitation to Contribute


In light of current events happening on campuses and throughout the nation, the Bonner Foundation is working on gathering examples of models, resources, and dialogue that effectively brings people together to work for shared concerns and aims - like education, jobs, quality of life, the environment, etc.


We invite your campus to contribute. Please contact your campus liaison to share:


  • An example or model
  • A set of principles
  • Training material
  • Facilitation guides


and other resources.


Campus Examples


Especially in light of current events on campus which have involved growing interests in dialogue across diversity issues, the events surrounding the 2016 U.S.Presidential election, and conversations about bridging political divides, several campuses have shared examples of activities that they have done in the past year. Many of these activities have been student led, with Bonner Scholars and Leaders assuming leadership roles on campus. Below are some examples, drawn from the 2017 Annual Reports and Student Annual Reports.


Birmingham Southern College (as shared in Student Annual Report)


  • On campus in 2016-2017, the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Bunting Center for Engaged Study and Community Action, which houses the Bonner Program, implemented an initiative to encourage respectful dialogue on campus. Since there is so much happening in the world, and college should be a place where one can explore ideas and think critically about important issues, Face-to-Face: Conversations that Matter allows our campus to regularly set aside space and time to have conversations as a community. As student leaders who have interest in building a safe and vibrant community of diverse ideas and experiences, some of our Bonner Leaders serve as facilitators for this initiative. Facilitators are trained on how to create a safe space and navigate difficult conversations. They help lead conversations amongst faculty, staff, and students about topics like: police brutality, racism on campus, immigration, and gender inequality. 


Earlham College (as shared in Student Annual Report)


  • Bonner Interns attempted to be very intentional in the promotion of diversity and inclusion. Since Fall 2015, a number of campus-wide protests have challenged Earlham as a community to focus diversity and inclusion at the center of the College’s efforts as a whole. The Bonner Program and broader community has done a healthy amount of “dialoguing across differences” because there are people from more than 80 countries represented at our institution. With this said, many Bonners have engaged in sustained dialogue sessions aimed at community building and diversity training. These trainings have helped them learn more about the importance of cultural differences. Also, they have pursued service opportunities and attended conferences about combatting institutional racism. During spring break, Earlham offered a trip to St. Louis where many Bonners did the Youth Undoing Institutional Racism Program where they were able to connect with racial justice organizations and learn about institutional racism. Also, many Bonners volunteered to help with a conference at Earlham put on by Founder of Harriet Speaks Jyraland Daniels entitled “Unraveling Race: A Systems and Interdisciplinary Approach to Understanding and Combatting Racism.” During this event, students talked about service as a means of decolonizing the numerous structures of oppression in our College and society which perpetuate white supremacy. 


Reading Group Design: Book and Article Resources


In light of the recent election and conversations about bridging political divides, some campuses have also expressed interest in book groups and readings. NPR featured a story highlighting this process and two books that are included in the list below.


We will also be finding and sharing books and articles that may be useful in sparking dialogue, learning, and reflection that bring people together to delve more deeply into the stories, experiences, and perspectives that are shaping their communities and the viewpoints (political, religious, etc.) of community members. Here are some books that have been recommended for that process.


Note: descriptions are from the books' publishers (available online). The books below are in alphabetical order. They have been highlighted to encourage diverse viewpoints and stories. Individual campuses may want to choose specific books that fit best together or identify chapters from a number of sources. Take a look at the resources on the Guides page, especially for planning and facilitating group dialogue, to develop a syllabus or experiential reading group plan.


Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates: Readers of his work in The Atlantic and elsewhere know Ta-Nehisi Coates for his thoughtful and influential writing on race in America. Written as a series of letters to his teenaged son, his new memoir, Between the World and Me, walks us through the course of his life, from the tough neighborhoods of Baltimore in his youth, to Howard University—which Coates dubs “The Mecca” for its revelatory community of black students and teachers—to the broader Meccas of New York and Paris. Coates describes his observations and the evolution of his thinking on race, from Malcolm X to his conclusion that race itself is a fabrication, elemental to the concept of American (white) exceptionalism. Ferguson, Trayvon Martin, and South Carolina are not bumps on the road of progress and harmony, but the results of a systemized, ubiquitous threat to “black bodies” in the form of slavery, police brutality, and mass incarceration. Coates is direct and, as usual, uncommonly insightful and original. There are no wasted words. This is a powerful and exceptional book -- Jon Foro (official review on Amazon).
  Hillbilly Elegy: by J.D. Vance: From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America's white working class. Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis - that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over 40 years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck. The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.'s grandparents were "dirt poor and in love" and moved north from Kentucky's Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. 

Listen Liberal by Thomas Frank: Drawing on years of research and first-hand reporting, Frank points out that the Democrats have done little to advance traditional liberal goals: expanding opportunity, fighting for social justice, and ensuring that workers get a fair deal. Indeed, they have scarcely dented the free-market consensus at all. This is not for lack of opportunity: Democrats have occupied the White House for 16 of the last 24 years, and yet the decline of the middle class has only accelerated. Wall Street gets its bailouts, wages keep falling, and the free-trade deals keep coming. Frank lays bare the essence of the Democratic Party's philosophy and how it has changed over the years. A form of corporate and cultural elitism has largely eclipsed the party's old working-class commitment, he finds. For certain favored groups, this has meant prosperity. But for the nation as a whole, it is a one-way ticket into the abyss of inequality. In this critical election year, Frank recalls the Democrats to their historic goals - the only way to reverse the ever-deepening rift between the rich and the poor in America.

Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild: The renowned sociologist Arlie Hochschild embarks on a thought-provoking journey from her liberal hometown of Berkeley, California, deep into Louisiana bayou country—a stronghold of the conservative right. As she gets to know people who strongly oppose many of the ideas she famously champions, Hochschild nevertheless finds common ground and quickly warms to the people she meets—among them a Tea Party activist whose town has been swallowed by a sinkhole caused by a drilling accident—people whose concerns are actually ones that all Americans share: the desire for community, the embrace of family, and hopes for their children. Strangers in Their Own Land goes beyond the commonplace liberal idea that these are people who have been duped into voting against their own interests. Instead, Hochschild finds lives ripped apart by stagnant wages, a loss of home, an elusive American dream—and political choices and views that make sense in the context of their lives.

The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander: In the era of colorblindness, it is no longer socially permissible to use race, explicitly, as a justification for discrimination, exclusion, and social contempt. Yet, as legal star Michelle Alexander reveals, today it is perfectly legal to discriminate against convicted criminals in nearly all the ways that it was once legal to discriminate against African Americans. Once you’re labeled a felon, the old forms of discrimination - employment discrimination, housing discrimination, denial of the right to vote, denial of educational opportunity, denial of food stamps and other public benefits, and exclusion from jury service - are suddenly legal.

The Unwinding by George Packer: journeys through the lives of several Americans, including Dean Price, the son of tobacco farmers, who becomes an evangelist for a new economy in the rural South; Tammy Thomas, a factory worker in the Rust Belt trying to survive the collapse of her city; Jeff Connaughton, a Washington insider oscillating between political idealism and the lure of organized money; and Peter Thiel, a Silicon Valley billionaire who questions the Internet’s significance and arrives at a radical vision of the future. Packer interweaves these intimate stories with biographical sketches of the era’s leading public figures, from Newt Gingrich to Jay-Z, and collages made from newspaper headlines, advertising slogans, and song lyrics that capture the flow of events and their undercurrents. The Unwinding portrays a superpower in danger of coming apart at the seams, its elites no longer elite, its institutions no longer working, its ordinary people left to improvise their own schemes for success & salvation.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: In this personal, eloquently-argued essay—adapted from her much-admired TEDx talk of the same name—Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, award-winning author of Americanah, offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century, one rooted in inclusion and awareness. Drawing extensively on her own experiences and her deep understanding of the often masked realities of sexual politics, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman now—and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.

White Rage: The Unspoken Trust of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson: As Ferguson, Missouri, erupted in August 2014, and media commentators across the ideological spectrum referred to the angry response of African Americans as 'black rage', historian Carol Anderson wrote a remarkable op-ed in the Washington Post showing that this was, instead, 'white rage at work. With so much attention on the flames,' she wrote, 'everyone had ignored the kindling.' Since 1865 and the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, every time African Americans have made advances towards full participation in our democracy, white reaction has fueled a deliberate and relentless rollback of their gains. The end of the Civil War and Reconstruction was greeted with the Black Codes and Jim Crow; the Supreme Court's landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision was met with the shutting down of public schools throughout the South while taxpayer dollars financed segregated white private schools; the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 triggered a coded but powerful response, the so-called Southern Strategy and the War on Drugs that disenfranchised millions of African Americans while propelling presidents Nixon and Reagan into the White House. 

Why the Right Went Wrong by E.J. Dionne Jr.: Why the Right Went Wrong offers a historical view of the right since the 1960s. Its core contention is that American conservatism and the Republican Party took a wrong turn when they adopted Barry Goldwater's worldview during and after the 1964 campaign. Since 1968, no conservative administration could live up to the rhetoric rooted in the Goldwater movement that began to reshape American politics 50 years ago. The collapse of the Nixon presidency led to the rise of Ronald Reagan, the defeat of George H. W. Bush, and Newt Gingrich's revolution. Bush initially undertook a partial modernization, preaching "compassionate conservatism". Conservatives quickly defined him as an advocate of "big government" and not conservative enough on spending, immigration, education, and Medicare. A return to the true faith was the only prescription on order. The result was the Tea Party.