A more inclusive CMU: Institute for Transformative Dialogue opens on campus

College campuses are teeming with diversity. And for a school as large as Central Michigan University, that means tens of thousands of students from all over the world, from all types of socio-economic backgrounds, with all sorts of systems of belief, each with an identity all their own, congregating in one central place.

That’s why the university has announced the opening of its Institute for Transformative Dialogue.

Located in the Center for Inclusion and Diversity on the first floor of the Bovee University Center, the institute provides a space for facilitated in-person conversations among members of two or more different social groups.

It’s a simple idea but a powerful one. Communication begets understanding.

Andrew Blom, philosophy and religion department chair, and Shannon Jolliff-Dettore, director of LGBTQ Services, are co-directors of the institute.

"The establishment of the institute is a commitment to a more inclusive CMU," says Blom.

"Its mission is to deepen our capacity as a community to engage authentically across difference - listening generously, sharing our own stories and thinking critically about our roles in creating a more justice in our world."

A partnership between the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and Enrollment and Student Services, the Institute for Transformative Dialogue has its roots in the semester-long cultural and global studies intergroup dialogue facilitation course.

That course has been training 15 to 20 student facilitators per semester for about a decade now.

"Many students who participate in intergroup dialogue for one semester are left wanting more," says Jolliff-Dettore.

"The institute provides the chance to learn and grow, so dialogue doesn’t have to be a one-time experience."

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