Intergroup dialogues (IGDs) are prolonged (five to six weeks) small group discussions between different groups (e.g., African American and White students, Asian and Latino students, Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual and Heterosexual students) which are led by trained facilitators and who create a safe place for intergroup interaction to take place (University of Michigan, 1994). IGDs can be characterized as face-to-face discussions that are open, honest, challenging, and reflective around issues that exist between groups.

The Voices of Discovery (VOD) program consists of several parts. First, students who are enrolled in university courses in which professors would like for them to engage in discussions related to diversity are recruited for the program. These students are ideal because they receive the theoretical and research material in their course while simultaneously participating in the out-of-classroom intergroup dialogues.

Second, professors who are teaching are asked to consider giving credit to students for participating in the program. One of the objectives of the project is to supplement the theoretical and research material presented by instructors in the courses with actual face-to-face dialogue regarding the issues of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, class, disability status, and other salient social identities.

Third, students accepted into the program participate in a dialogue group for five weeks (two hours per week). Examples of the dialogue groups that are offered include: Inter-religious, International/US Born, Students of Color/White, Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual/Heterosexual, female/male, and Woman of Color/White Woman, Biracial, Issues of Privilege and Race in America.

Each dialogue group is co-facilitated by a combination of trained graduate students, staff members, faculty and specially trained undergraduate students. All facilitators receive training in active listening, conflict management, group processes, ingroup-outgroup dynamics, and social identity theory prior to the beginning of the intergroup dialogues.

This program takes place each semester and runs for five weeks each term.

Sponsored by the University of South Dakota’s Office for Diversity, Counseling & Psychology in Education Program, Center for Teaching and Learning, Women and Gender Studies Program, Spectrum, Tiospaye, Union of African American Students, Asian American Student Association, Association for the Advancement of Women’s Rights, Center for International Programs and Events, and the President’s Council on Diversity and Inclusiveness.

For Information, contact the Office for Diversity at 605-677-3925.