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Lopez appointed faculty associate for diversity
Lopez appointed faculty associate for diversityDecember 01, 2004Michele Barrettmibarret@syr.edu
Syracuse University’s Division of Undergraduate Studies has named Gretchen Lopez as a faculty associate for diversity. In this new position, Lopez will be responsible for extending and building intergroup dialogue offerings at SU. Her initial focus will be on reviewing current offerings across the University that are closely tied to education through intergroup dialogues, in addition to advising the efforts underway in the Division of Student Affairs with residence-hall based intergroup dialogues focused on race and ethnicity. In the months to come, her focus will also include development of a curriculum based on intergroup dialogue and programmatic efforts that bring together faculty, staff, students and community members. She will also conduct research examining the educational benefits of intergroup dialogue for college students as part of a multi-university project underway seeking to better understand and share methods of teaching about racism, social issues and change.
Intergroup dialogue is an educational model that brings students together from two or more social identity groups with a history of conflict to increase their understanding of intergroup processes and enhance their abilities and appreciation for working with others toward change. The dialogues are led by trained facilitators-undergraduate or graduate students, faculty or staff-who guide student learning by providing a forum for individuals and groups to communicate in meaningful ways; analyze challenging social issues from multiple perspectives; and explore differences, common ground, and collaborative action. Each social identity group must be represented equally in the intergroup dialogues.
“The appointment of Gretchen Lopez as Syracuse University’s first faculty associate sends a very important message to our campus community, specifically our students, that we want to provide the opportunities for skill building in perspective taking and appreciation of differences that will help them become active engaged citizens,” said Ronald R. Cavanagh, vice president for undergraduate studies. “There are many ways to teach diversity, but we feel that intergroup dialogue is one of the best ways to bring students together for shared purpose and action.”
Lopez is currently an investigator and project director for the Creative Conflict Resolution Project, part of the SU Violence Prevention Project in the School of Education. In addition to holding an assistant professorship in The College of Arts and Sciences’ psychology department, Lopez has been an assistant professor with the Department of Psychology and Program in Africana and Latin American Studies at Colgate University. She has taught, written and spoken on topics including intergroup contact, conflict and change; multicultural education; and ethnic and gender identities.
Says Lopez, “I see this as an important opportunity to work together with committed others in studying and enacting effective ways to teach, learn, experience and explore difference, shared goals and the challenge of collaboration.” Lopez recently shared her sense of the importance of dialogue as co-editor of a recent special issue of the Journal of Social Issues on the theme, “50 Years After Brown v. Board of Education: The Promise and Challenge of Multicultural Education.”
Barry L. Wells, senior vice president and dean of student affairs, says, “Having Dr. Lopez available to consult with Student Affairs staff on the ‘Conversations About Race and Ethnicity’ intergroup dialogue program we are currently piloting with our residential students has been a tremendous help. Similar to other colleagues who are faculty associates, such as Professor Sandy Hurd for learning communities and Professor Jerry Evensky for the First-Year Experience, we are looking forward to working with Gretchen and having our students benefit from the collaborative work between Academic Affairs and Student Affairs.”
Lopez holds a Ph.D in social psychology from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Cornell University. Her professional affiliations include membership in the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, and the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues.