Clark 'Difficult Dialogues' conference to focus on higher ed

WORCESTER, MA— Clark University’s Difficult Dialogues Initiative and The Public Conversations Project, a leading dialogue consulting organization based in Watertown, Mass., will host a conference, Inviting Dialogue; Renewing the Deep Purposes of Higher Education,” on Thursday, February 11 and Friday, February 12.

The conference is aimed at examining the role of dialogue in higher education, and questioning the relationship between dialogue and action. It will bring together approximately 80 faculty, administrators, staff and consultants (representing 20 colleges and universities), and professional dialogue practitioners, to share work already underway and to deepen our understanding of the implications of this work in higher education. 

While the conference itself is for practitioners, the public is invited to the opening session, “Dialogue, Why It Matters Now,” on Thursday, February 11 at 7 p.m., in Dana Commons. Clark University’s Sara Buie, director of Clark’s Difficult Dialogues Initiative, and David Joseph of the Public Conversations Project will give brief talks, followed by “Getting to ‘We’: Why Dialogue Matters in Higher Education,” by Patricia Romney, of Romney Associates in Amherst.  A Conversation Café will follow.

The conference will continue Friday, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m.  Day-long sessions will focus on, but will not be limited to, developing skills for interfaith leadership, dealing with campus controversies, conversations about sexual decision-making, and use of dialogue in the classroom. The conference will be framed by Diana Chapman Walsh, President Emerita of Wellesley College.

Clark University’s Difficult Dialogues program is part of the National Difficult Dialogues Initiative to create a culture of dialogue on college campuses. In 2006, Clark was one of 27 independent programs nationwide, selected from over 700 colleges and universities to have their original dialogue initiative program funded by the Ford Foundation. Co-sponsored by the Higgins School of Humanities and the International Development, Community and Environment department, Clark has since continued to offer symposiums, lectures and classes focused around dialogue with the intent to deepen experiences of learning and engagement across the community.

For more information about the opening session on Thursday, contact Lisa Gillingham at 508-793-7479.