Office of Diversity & Inclusion

Words of Engagement

Intergroup Dialogue Program (WEIDP)

The Words of Engagement Intergroup Dialogue Program (WEIDP) is an initiative of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion that bring together students of diverse social identity groups through the power of dialogue. Utilizing theory, experience, and social justice frameworks, WEIDP challenges participants to complicate and explore who we are, what we know about each other, and the cultural systems of power that impact our lives and relationships. WEIDP courses are for credit and count towards the Cultural Competence Diversity Requirement.

Courses are typically 7-week, 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 facilitated by 2-3 trained intergroup dialogue facilitators.

Over the seven weeks, students will work with facilitators to explore the complexities of culture, marginalization, and privilege as it relates to the theme of the dialogue. Throughout this time, students engage in-class activities, participate in discussions, write journal reflections, and complete a final project called “the learning edge.”

Although the majority of dialogue courses are for undergraduates during the academic year, WEIDP occasionally offers professional programming and dialogues for faculty/staff during summer and winter, and for-credit sessions for graduate students.

Goals of Dialogue

Knowing

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.

Know How

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.

Being

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.

Doing

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.

Registration Process

Students register directly on Testudo for dialogue courses. Each dialogue course consists of 2-3 themes. Once a student has registered, they will be requested by WEIDP at least a month before their course to complete a WEIDP student profile. The WEIDP administration uses that profile to place the student in one of the themes of the dialogue. (e.g. a student who registers for EDHI338L: Dialogue on Race, Gender, and Immigration, may be placed in the Dialogue on Immigration).

Words of Engagement Registration
Screen shot of student profile page to be completed after registering on Testudo.

Facilitator Community

Each dialogue is facilitated by 2-3 trained facilitators. The facilitator community consists of instructors from UMD as well as outside. Each facilitator first goes through an introductory one-day training and each semester facilitators must attend a two-day training where we focus on community building, cultivating facilitator skills and techniques, and strengthening the WEIDP program as a whole.

Folks interested in facilitating can email the program at dialogue@umd.edu. Facilitators must possess a Bachelor’s degree and be able to demonstrate interest/experience in social justice frameworks, facilitation, and dialogue programming.

Top