Dialogue as the key to building an inclusive campus environment

By

Lynne MacDonald

Today’s heated political and social climate presents many challenges in realizing ASU’s commitment to creating an inclusive environment that empowers and gives voice to all members of the university community. While there are no easy or simple ways to make this happen, students in the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, whose motto reads “It all begins with good communication,” recently spent a day exploring keys to building a supportive climate for intercultural dialogue on campus.

A group of twelve Communication PhD students organized and facilitated a workshop on Saturday, November 19 for 25 undergraduate student leaders. Participants engaged in stimulating conversations about challenges to interacting with those whose cultural and political perspectives differ from one’s own, and they proposed steps for building a learning community that values and practices intercultural dialogue.

Professor Benjamin Broome, whose graduate students designed and conducted the workshop, explained the purpose of the event: “Especially in the current national and international climate of divisiveness, it is more important than ever that we work toward transforming the hurtful rhetoric and damaging behaviors that we learn about and encounter on a daily basis into constructive dialogue that leads towards actions to break down walls and bridge the divide that has been exacerbated by recent events.”

Dr. Broome is an intercultural communication scholar whose work centers on the theory and practice of sustainable dialogue and its role in peacebuilding. He has facilitated numerous workshops throughout North America, Europe, and the eastern Mediterranean. He was recently awarded the 2016 Rubin Theory-to-Practice Award by the International Association for Conflict Management for his important contributions linking theory, research, and practice.

The workshop was sponsored by the Transformation Project, a research initiative of the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication.