Skip to main content

Our History

The Dialogue Zone developed over a decade of dialogue-related efforts on the part of many individual staff and faculty members at the University.  In 2011, faculty and staff from the University of Michigan visited campus and facilitated a dialogue training for UD faculty and staff.  A similar training happened again in 2015.  The following year, a team of UD faculty and staff attended the Intergroup Dialogue Institute at the University of Michigan hosted by their Program for Intergroup Relations.  The faculty and staff who participated in these trainings incorporated the principles and practices of dialogue into their work in various contexts across campus, as did other colleagues who also had been drawn to the concept of dialogue.  However, it was not until 2017, that a vision of an organized center on campus that focused on dialogue developed.  

A Space Dedicated to Dialogue

That summer, under the leadership of the University’s inaugural Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, several staff and faculty members attended the Intergroup Dialogue and Diversity Education (IDDE) Summer Institute for Christian Colleges and Universities at Hope College in Michigan.  During this multi-day conference, these faculty and staff members as individuals built their capacity for facilitating dialogue.  They also left the conference with a shared vision of creating an institutional space on campus where conversations about challenging and difficult topics could take place.  

That same year, the University of Dayton Libraries began its plans for the renovation of Roesch Library.  As part of the planning process, the Libraries welcomed the submission of proposals for how the new space might be used.  The staff and faculty members who attended the IDDE institute saw this moment as an opportunity to realize the vision that had come out of their experience at Hope College.  They submitted a proposal for a space where dialogue-related programming could be hosted.  The proposal was accepted, and the space known today as “the Dialogue Zone” (RL 107) came into being.

In May 2019, as the renovation was coming to a close, the working group met with the Provost to discuss the goals the Dialogue Zone would strive to achieve and structure by which it would operate.  A coordinator was appointed to oversee the day-to-day operations of the Dialogue Zone.  Staff members from two other offices were given dedicated time to supporting the Dialogue Zone’s activities.  A Steering Committee consisting of faculty and staff from various offices and departments across campus was formed to guide the Dialogue Zone’s activities.  In August 2019, the Dialogue Zone opened its doors and hosted its first programs.  

The Dialogue Zone Today

Now an independent organization operating under the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Dialogue Zone hosts annually nearly 50 engagements serving a combined total of over 1000 participants.  Despite the difficulties presented by the COVID-19 pandemic during its first few years, the Dialogue Zone’s programs and services have increased steadily in their variety, reach, and effectiveness.  

Its regular operations are governed by a dedicated team of faculty and staff, a graduate assistant, and several student facilitators.  It trains a couple dozen faculty and staff facilitators each year, who join an expanding cadre of facilitators who bring principles and practices of dialogue into various contexts on campus and in the greater community.  In 2023, the Dialogue Zone began hosting its own summer institute, a two-and-a-half-day workshop for people in and beyond the Greater Dayton Area who wish to learn how to bring dialogue into their own groups, organizations, and communities.  The Dialogue Zone also provides consultative support to those offices, departments, groups, and organizations who are engaging in their own dialogue-related work and strives to be a resource for knowledge and practice to those who similarly are seeking to build understanding among diverse groups.


Dialogue Zone

Roesch Library
300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469 - 1360