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The Dialogue Zone Opens Its Doors

By Jason Combs

After several years of envisioning the possibilities, the Dialogue Zone is opening its doors during the Fall 2019 term.  At a time when incivility, polarization, violence, distrust, and alienation are reflected in public discourse in potentially alarming ways, the Dialogue Zone represents an alternative way of engaging people in one’s community with different views and perspectives that resists approaching other people as opponents or obstacles to be overcome.

Located on the first floor of the newly renovated Roesch Library, the Dialogue Zone is a space dedicated to building capacity for dialogue across campus.  Whereas debate involves contending with another with a win-lose orientation, dialogue seeks mutual understanding. Understanding does not imply agreement. Participants in a dialogue can experience a clash of ideas and opinions that can be challenging as they explore their differences.  Nonetheless, because they resist seeing each other as adversaries, they have an opportunity to examine each other’s viewpoints without any pressure to decide in favor or against what others are saying or to cling to their own initial position as they encounter new insights and information.  Whether or not they come to some consensus at the end, the understanding that they have achieved can serve as a foundation for continuing the conversation and perhaps can inform later decision-making, should they decide at any point to take their conversation along that path.

Building understanding through dialogue is not an easy process.  For that reason, the Dialogue Zone provides services to faculty, staff, and students that can help them to build their capabilities to engage others in this way.  These services include:

  • Training for faculty, staff, and students who wish to build their capacity for engaging in dialogue
  • Facilitation for individuals and groups who seek understanding in light of challenging and potentially divisive topics
  • Support for faculty who wish to incorporate dialogue into their courses
  • Programs that build awareness of and appreciation for the potential of dialogue in promoting decision-making, peacebuilding, and reconciliation through nonviolent means in the local community and throughout the world
  • Opportunities for research and scholarship relating to dialogue.

The faculty and staff who are working in the Dialogue Zone look forward to seeing how increasing capacity for dialogue can strengthen the quality of community life, can elevate the conversations that people are having on campus, and can further UD’s vision of being a university for the common good.

If you are interested in any of the services that the Dialogue Zone provides, then contact us at dialoguezone@udayton.edu and share your ideas.  

Next Post

First Cohort of Facilitators Convenes

The first cohort of facilitators for the Dialogue Zone met this week to explore opportunities for faculty, staff, and students to engage each other on key topics affecting campus.  Twenty-six people from various offices and departments across the University spent a morning together, reviewing key skills, principles, and approaches for facilitating dialogue.

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