Words of Engagement: Intergroup Dialogue program

The Words of Engagement Intergroup Dialogue Program (WEIDP) is a for-credit social justice education program that brings together students of diverse social identity groups for facilitated face-to-face conversation that enhance participants’ self- and social awareness. Utilizing theory, experiential learning, and equity frameworks, WEIDP supports participants in exploring key questions about who we are, what we know about each other, and how cultural systems of power impact our lives and relationships. The program prepares students to navigate an increasingly diverse society through relationship building across difference and taking steps, both individually and collectively, to promote equity and justice.

WEIDP courses count towards the Cultural Competence Diversity Requirement. Courses are typically 1-credit dialogues that occur in the first and second half of the fall and spring semesters. Each dialogue is themed around a set of social identities (e.g. dialogue on race, gender, immigration, religious bias, ability, etc.) and is co-facilitated by trained intergroup dialogue facilitators. While most of our dialogue offerings are for undergraduate students, WEIDP occasionally offers non-credit professional programming and dialogues for faculty/staff and for-credit for-credit courses for graduate students.

Upon completion of this course, students will have developed the following dialogical skills.

Goals of Dialogue

Describe the concept of culture: increased personal and political awareness of cultural identity affiliation and difference, as well as increased knowledge about equity, diversity and social justice.
Understand how cultural beliefs influence behaviors and practices at the individual, organizational and societal levels: the ability to juxtapose as well as integrate personal narrative and critical academic analysis; increased comfort with multiculturalism and greater appreciation for difference gained through exploration of material and perspectives from differing political and socio-cultural perspectives; decreased propensity for stereotyping.
Analyze one's own cultural beliefs with respect to attitudes or behaviors: increased communication and conflict exploration skills as well as growth in perspective taking and complex thinking; a reduction in intergroup interaction anxiety, and increased motivation for cross-group bridge-building.
Effectively use skills to negotiate situations or conflicts within and across different identity and cultural groups: employing the conflict resolution, communication, and critical thinking skills used in dialogue to take action to bring about equity and justice.

How to Register

Students can register for a dialogue course directly on testudo. Each dialogue course consists of 2-3 themed sections. Once a student has registered, they will be prompted by WEIDP to complete a WEIDP Student Profile on our enrollment portal. The student profile is used to place participants in one of the themed sections of the dialogue course they registered for on testudo (e.g. a student who registers for EDHI338L: Dialogue on Race, Gender, and Immigration, may be placed in the Dialogue on Immigration).

Facilitator Community

An essential feature of the dialogue process are the skilled facilitators who support participants' learning and their overall experience. The WEIDP Facilitation team consist of UMD staff, graduate students, and professionals from the surrounding area. They are educators with a depth of knowledge on various dimensions of identity (such as gender, race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background, national origin, ability/disability, religion, etc) as well as knowledge about the dynamics of power, privilege, and oppression.

To learn more about how to become a WEIDP Facilitator, please email the program at dialogue@umd.edu.