Teaching, learning, and applying effective skills for engaging in civil discourse on controversial topics must become an integral component of the missions of universities and colleges across the U.S. Join the Difficult Dialogues National Resource Center to support this movement.
Difficult Dialogues National Resource Center
The 2014 Difficult Dialogues in Higher Education Conference was a great success! Thank you to all who participated in making it a meaningful experience.
The next national conference is tentatively scheduled for Fall 2016 at University of Texas at Austin. Interested individuals and institutions should register above or contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Difficult Dialogues National Resource Center
In 2013, the Difficult Dialogues National Resource Center (DDNRC) was formed to support the integration of teaching and learning about difficult dialogues into university missions across the U.S. and the world.
Like citizens across the country, university leaders are troubled by the increasingly polarized and hostile nature of public discourse within our democracy. A growing intolerance of those with whom we differ—whether due to political outlook or personal identity—has come to characterize our national conversation. In addition, university campuses have increasingly experienced restrictions on academic freedom and the expression of controversial views by both students and faculty.
University leaders recognize that the capacity to engage in informed and respectful civic and political discourse is at the heart of a democracy, that academic freedom and the ability to express and entertain controversial views is at the core of a university’s mission, and that universities are among the few places where students can experience and develop these capacities and freedoms.
We call on all colleges and universities to join us in ensuring that our campuses remain places where freedom of expression and academic freedom are protected and encouraged, pluralism is enhanced and celebrated, and teaching and learning about difficult dialogues becomes an integral component of our missions. Please consider an individual or institutional membership in the DDNRC.
To strengthen a democratically engaged society, we seek to advance innovative practices in higher education that promote respectful, transformative dialogue on controversial topics and complex social issues, thereby reflecting a commitment to pluralism and academic freedom.
The DDNRC is working toward achieving the following goals:
- Establish a national resource center as the intellectual and operational nucleus of a national movement for difficult dialogues teaching and learning.
- Form a consortium of higher education institutions and national associations that, at the highest levels, are committed to the advancement of difficult dialogues teaching and learning.
- Build on national models that advance awareness and promote the practice of difficult dialogues approaches to teaching and learning.
- Promote faculty and staff development programs that advance cultural pluralism, academic freedom, and engagement across differences.
- Engage national student organizations and support their interest in advancing pluralism issues; promote undergraduate student research related to difficult dialogues topics.
- Advance research designed to assess the impact of difficult dialogues teaching and learning on educational outcomes across the curriculum, and support the establishment of best practices.
- Disseminate materials and information to a broad audience within higher education, through publications, workshops, conference presentations, institutes, and other appropriate venues.
DDNRC Board List, as of July 1, 2015
Pauline Turner Strong
Director, Humanities Institute
Professor, Anthropology & Women’s/Gender Studies
The University of Texas at Austin
Associate Director, Center for Advancing Faculty Excellence
Director, Difficult Dialogues Initiative
University of Alaska Anchorage
Compliance Senior Trainer
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
Senior Partnerships and Development Coordinator
New York, NY
Assistant Director, Project Pericles
New York, New York
Program Coordinator, Humanities Institute
University of Texas at Austin
Associate Professor, History and African American Studies
Cofounder, Transforming Community Project
HHG Higher Education Consulting
Kelly E. Maxwell
Co-Director and Lecturer
The Program on Intergroup Relations
University of Michigan
Founder and President, Center for Change and Conflict Resolution
Assistant Dean, College of Education & Human Development
Instructional Associate Professor, Education Psychology
Texas A&M University
Chief Diversity Officer (retired)
Clemson, South Carolina
Roger L. Worthington
Professor and Chair
Department of Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education
University of Maryland