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College of Engineering and Computer Science Launches Inclusive Excellence Dialogue Circles
Over the next two years more than 500 faculty, staff and students in the College of Engineering and Computer Science will take part in Inclusive Excellence Dialogue Circles that address the challenging issues of race, ethnicity and gender head-on through open dialogue.
The dialogue circles bring people together in small groups to foster mutual understanding and trust, uncovering new ways to work together and solve problems. Each circle is led by diverse, trained facilitators to address and encourage understanding across identity differences.
“The circles are an opportunity for all our ECS community, our students, our faculty and our staff to be in a room, in a safe environment where ground rules are set so people can feel comfortable and people can openly share information about their background and their experiences,” says interim Assistant Dean of Inclusive Excellence Karen Davis.
“It’s really about students interacting with other students and really learn more about each other and the people who are on this campus so we can be more successful together,” says Shazif Shaikh ’19.
“The facilitators are there to help guide a conversation, help introduce talking points, help make sure everyone’s voice is being heard and everyone is free to express what they need to express,” says Charles Keppler ’18.
“Because once you are comfortable with who you are and you understand who someone else is, it makes it easier to break down barriers,” says Davis.
“I participated in the pilot program last fall,” says Keppler. “It allows people to open up and I think there is an opportunity even for people who are hesitant at first to really find their own way in the conversation and find their own dialogue.”
“There are certain topics we are very passionate about in our lives and so we begin to realize we may be on different sides of the argument, at the root we share certain key beliefs and we want the betterment of everyone involved. It’s just the way that we approach it so it is really understanding the perspective everyone takes,” says Shaikh.
“At the very least what you get from it is this significantly greater ability to communicate and to have this dialogue with people and have hard conversations which is increasingly important in today’s environment,” says Keppler.
“This is life,” says Davis. “After you leave college you don’t know where you are going to go to live, you don’t know where you are going to work, you don’t know who you are going to be working with, so really this is the stage that is being set for the rest of your life.”
The college’s student dialogue circles (listed in MySlice as ECS 400/600) are graded, one-credit courses. By participating, students gain skills to become more competitive candidates in the global workplace and learn to forge healthier, more effective relationships.
Current ECS students can sign up for an Inclusive Excellence Dialogue Circle through this Google doc.
ECS faculty and staff can register via this Google doc.