SU partners with Nottingham and Fayetteville-Manlius teachers to host Diversity Institute for high school students
SU partners with Nottingham and Fayetteville-Manlius teachers to host Diversity Institute for high school students February 27, 2006Matthew R. Snydermrsnyder@syr.edu
Earlier this month, 18 students from Nottingham High School and 24 from Fayetteville-Manlius High School came together at Syracuse University to engage in open conversation about challenging issues related to race and ethnicity in the Central New York community. The event, titled “Diversity Institute — Raising Our Voices,” represents a partnership between SU faculty and staff involved in intergroup dialogue on campus and Nottingham and Fayetteville-Manlius teachers. The teachers, Jennifer Banker of Nottingham and Laurie Iodice of Fayetteville-Manlius, are offering courses on race and culture in U.S. society; their students are communicating and collaborating across schools throughout this spring. The day at SU provided these students with assistance from SU faculty, staff and students, and set the stage for sharing of information among the two high schools.
“The high school students were engaged and open to learning from one another. They posed difficult questions and were willing to put forth their own thoughts, experiences and approaches,” says Gretchen Lopez, faculty associate for diversity and assistant professor of education at SU. “We discussed and practiced some paths to breaking down barriers, to help create a positive beginning for the discussions they will have within and across classrooms over the coming months.”
The high school teachers developed their courses to give students the opportunity for in-depth analysis of these issues in an academic setting and to build on the participation of the schools in the Community-Wide Dialogue to End Racism program offered by the InterReligous Council of Central New York. Intergroup dialogue is becoming an increasingly important means of engagement, both within SU and in the University’s interaction with partner organizations. Intergroup dialogue is an educational model that brings students together from two or more groups for honest conversations, which increase understanding of intergroup processes and enhance participants’ abilities and appreciation for working with others toward change. Facilitators guide student learning by providing an environment for individuals and groups to communicate in meaningful ways; analyze challenging social issues from multiple perspectives; and explore differences, common ground and collaborative action.
During the Diversity Institute, students heard and discussed a presentation by Jeffrey Mangram, who is an instructor and graduate student in education at SU and a social studies teacher at Manlius Pebble Hill School in DeWitt. Teachers from Nottingham and Fayetteville-Manlius chaired a student panel including students from both high schools as well as SU. The panel included students who recently received awards for their leadership in this area. SU undergraduate students served as institute facilitators, helping bring high-school students together to talk about, analyze and learn in the intellectually challenging setting of the University environment.
“As students and teachers from Nottingham and Fayetteville-Manlius come together at SU, they are afforded an important opportunity for dialogue across educational settings and across perceived divisions in our broader community. All of our participants are excited by what this will mean to the high school students and the community as their education, discussion and dialogue move forward,” Lopez says. “At the same time, these conversations extend the learning of our Syracuse University students who are currently involved in dialogue, through their academic programs or residence-hall programs, and of the faculty and staff who participate in or study dialogue.”
At SU, two new courses on intergroup dialogue began during the 2005-06 academic year, offered through the sociology and women’s studies departments, giving students increased opportunity to learn about, participate in and critically reflect on dialogue. In addition, a new series, Conversations About Race and Ethnicity (CARE), is bringing more than 80 students together for weekly intergroup dialogue in SU’s residence halls; it is conducted as a collaboration of Academic Affairs, the Office of Residence Life, the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Community-Wide Dialogue. Additionally, the Office of Human Resources sponsors dialogue circles for staff. SU is also participating in the Multiversity Intergroup Dialogue Project, a 10-university collaboration to develop best practices in intergroup dialogue and study its benefits.
For more information on intergroup dialogue at SU, visithttp://intergroupdialogue.syr.edu.