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Talking it Through

Last year’s Critical Conversations continued efforts by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to open dialogue about key issues of inclusiveness. (Photo by Mark Schmidt)

ALBANY, N.Y. (Sept. 25, 2017) — The cliché is that talk is cheap. But on issues such as race and racism, inclusiveness and bridging differences, the real value is in dialogue.

The “Dialogue in Action” (DIA) series, presented by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI), invites faculty and staff to tackle these tough issues through moderated conversations. Bi-monthly sessions, which start in October, will be held throughout the academic year.

The series was launched for faculty in the fall of 2013, and this year has been expanded to include staff.

“As UAlbany continues its move toward inclusive excellence, we want to make sure that we are giving our faculty the tools they need to be successful and that will create an atmosphere where all can learn, thrive and have success,” said Tamra Minor, chief diversity officer and assistant vice president for Diversity and Inclusion.

ODI has worked to provide training, workshops and other education that will lead to effective dialogue, said Deputy Assistant Director Patrick Jean-Pierre.

“The larger vision is trying to get everyone on campus to participate, in beginning to have diversity-related conversations,” Jean-Pierre said. “Each person should come because it will give them an opportunity to reflect on their own cultural experiences.”

Faculty dialogues have focused on helping shape the classroom environment and developing ways to engage in genuine dialogue around diversity. Staff dialogues will be more focused on issues pertinent to their work and activities.

“We’ve had some success with faculty participation in Dialogue in Action because people have been willing to come to the table, respect others’ differences and be open to having difficult conversations,” Minor said. “I’m looking forward to continuing our faculty efforts and expanding this process to staff.”

Faculty, staff facilitators

Each Dialogue in Action session will be facilitated by trained faculty and staff who will work with small learning groups. Each meeting will have a main topic, designed to help focus the sessions, but participants also are welcome to bring their own topics. Participants are encouraged to attend as many sessions as possible to get the full experience of the DIA program. Those who attend all sessions will be awarded a certificate of completion.

“The hope is that people will leave with action plans, and thoughts and ideas of how they might do things differently in their classrooms or workspaces,” said Jean-Pierre. “Based on these conversations – about culture or micro-aggressions and deficit thinking or colorblindness – what does that now mean with what you’ll do in the classroom or within your work environment?”

Calendar:

Faculty DIA: Fridays from 10-11:30 a.m. in University Hall, Room 107
Session dates: Oct. 6 and 20; Nov. 3 and 17; Dec. 1; Feb. 9 and 16; March 9 and 23.

Staff DIA: Thursdays from 10-11:30 a.m. in University Hall, Room 107
Session dates: Oct. 5 and 19; Nov. 2 and 16; Feb. 1 and 15; March 8 and 22.

Staff DIA: Fridays from noon-1:30 p.m. in University Hall, Room 105
Session dates: Oct. 13 and 27; Nov. 3 and 17; Dec. 1; Feb. 9 and 16; March 16 and 23.

For more information and to register for a session, visit: www.albany.edu/dia/dia-registration.php

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.