Controversial Issues and Civil Dialogue

Spring Diversity Dialogue

The Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity (OIED) will host the annual Spring Campus Diversity Dialogue on Monday, February 20, 2017 from 3:00-4:30 p.m. in the campus cinema. All students, faculty and staff are invited to attend.

“Controversial Issues and Civil Dialogue” will provide a platform to discuss a few national high profile issues as well as introduce participants to a conflict resolution model. In addition to engaging in hardy dialogue, the goal of the program is to help participants build skills for working through controversial issues. The event will integrate technology into the forum discussions, so if you have a smartphone or tablet be sure to bring it with you.

More often, we are finding our students, faculty and staff seeking to avoid conversations on what appears to be polarized, political or controversial issues. Will critical issues be resolved through avoidance? What obligation do we have as scholars to be leaders on these issues? When you hear opinions with which you don’t agree, how do you typically respond? Do you:

    • cut the person off before they have a chance to finish speaking?
    • quickly tell them they are wrong and explain why?
    • debate their points with them?
    • listen more to that person’s point of view?
    • become angry and go to someone to vent about it?
    • research the person’s points and stated facts?

As academic scholars, engaging in critical and creative thought and solutions is central to the mission of NC State. Instead of running away from dialogue, we need to run to it, enthusiastically. However, in order to do so, one must be equipped with skills and strategies for moving the dialogue forward to find a common resolution.

Here is what you can expect at this year’s event:

  • topics that are often highly emotional and where there is likely to be disagreement within our audience;
  • topics that we would find exciting to examine with an audience of students, faculty and staff;
  • topics about which YOU may have personal stories.

All topics to be presented in the program have come directly from groups of NC State students, faculty and staff. To prepare for this event, we ask that you come ready to be respectful to others, to keep the discussions focused on the topics, to discuss what may have seemed to be “undiscussable” issues, to disagree openly, to give others the chance to participate, to be ready to listen and to think critically before you speak.

Dr. Tracey Ray is assistant vice provost for student diversity in the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity.