Dialogue in the University: A Case Study
Hicks, Stephanie D
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This qualitative case study seeks to identify and contextualize the theoretical underpinnings of a dialogue-based diversity and social justice curriculum initiative based on Intergroup Dialogue (IGD) theory and pedagogy at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Specifically, this study asks: What theories and values underlie the Dialogue Initiative (DI) process at UIC? Research on Intergroup Dialogue (IGD) has typically focused on its effectiveness as an intervention in higher education classrooms designed to increase students’ awareness of social diversity and encourage their positive interaction with students from different social identity groups (race/ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, religion, gender, citizenship/national origin) (Gurin, 1999; Gurin, Dey & Hurtado, 2003; Zuniga, Nagda, Chesler & Cytron-Walker, 2007). IGD was first developed and implemented on the University of Michigan’s campus in the late 1980s. However, in the 25 years since IGDs inception, the demographic makeup of undergraduate student bodies has changed significantly, as have universities themselves. By focusing on the development and implementation of a dialogue-based diversity and social justice education program at a large, urban, public research university with a predominately working-class student body that has no racial/ethnic majority, this study will investigate whether IGD has been incorporated into the neoliberal university in a way that disciplines minority student difference (Melamed, 2011; Ferguson, 2012), or whether it challenges power. Through data gleaned from interviews, participant observation and policy analysis, this study uncovers the values embedded in the policy discourse (Ball, 1993), pedagogical practices and instructor/student interactions with the Dialogue Initiative. Finally, it will suggest what, if any, transformative possibilities there are for the Dialogue Initiative in the university.