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Intergroup Dialogue

Intergroup Dialogue workshop organizers Cathy Rocke and Arielle Godbout and workshop facilitators Noor Ali and Charles Behling.

Intergroup Dialogue a powerful new tool

June 6, 2013 — 

Andrea Bilash

More than 30 students, staff, faculty and community members came together May 21 and 22 for the U of M’s first Intergroup Dialogue Workshop.

Originating at the University of Michigan 25 years ago, this award-winning workshop program is designed to bring together potentially conflicting groups to learn about social diversity through engaging and constructive conversation. The model includes four stages: forming and building relationships, discussing differences and commonalities, exploring hot topics, and action planning and alliance building.

Facilitated by Noor Ali and Charles Behling from the University of Michigan, the workshop had participants form small groups and engage in exercises that allowed for the safe, open and respectful sharing of thoughts and ideas about various topics. Two larger groups were also formed, with each discussing Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal relations.

As a participant, the dialogue was powerful, challenging, emotional and thought-provoking. Most of all, the experience underlined the impact that longer-term sustained dialogue could have in advancing a respectful, equitable and inclusive environment for everyone on our campuses. Cathy Rocke, assistant professor in the Faculty of Social Work, is leading the movement to bring Intergroup Dialogue to the University of Manitoba on a regular basis.

The event was sponsored by Indigenous Achievement (office of the president), Faculty of Social Work (endowment fund), Human Rights and Advisory Services, St. Paul’s College and Arthur V. Mauro Centre for Peace and Justice.

This article first appeared in the June 6, 2013 issue of The Bulletin.

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