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Five College Days of Dialogue

Staff and faculty on each campus were invited to examine issues of race, ethnicity, class and rank, gender, and religion during the Five College Days of Dialogue that began October 18.

This effort, launched by the Five College Intergroup Dialogue Committee in 2008, in partnership with the UMass Social Justice Education Program of the School of the Education, expands upon the strengths of current intergroup dialogue programs at Hampshire, Amherst, Mount Holyoke and Smith Colleges and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

The Days of Dialogue are intended to be a starting point for continuing conversations about important issues on all Five College campuses. The long-term goal of this initiative is to build the capacity to develop sustained dialogues across differences among college employees led by a Five College cadre of trained facilitators.

Intergroup Dialogue is practiced at several colleges and universities across the nation to engage students, faculty, and staff in sustained conversations with others from diverse backgrounds. To prepare for the Days of Dialogue, 60 staff and faculty from the five campuses participated in three days of training at Mount Holyoke College last June.

The training included the pioneering leadership of Ximena Zúñiga, associate professor of Social Justice Education Program, School of Education, at UMass Amherst and Mark Chesler, professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Michigan. Sixty other staff and faculty from the five campuses were trained in 2009.

According to Zúñiga, "research conducted in colleges and universities, K-12, schools, and communities nationwide tell us that sustained dialogue across racial and other social divides, when facilitated well, can help participants develop a sense of personal and collective efficacy and responsibility about diversity and social justice issues impacting their communities."

Each campus scheduled several dialogues during the week of October 18- 22, 2010.

This initiative is supported by the directors of human resources, the directors of diversity and equity, and been endorsed by the college presidents, and chancellor of each of the five institutions.

Based in Amherst, Massachusetts, Five Colleges, Inc., is a nonprofit educational consortium created in 1965 to advance the extensive educational and cultural objectives of its member institutions—Hampshire, Amherst, Mount Holyoke and Smith colleges and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

For more information, contact Kevin Kennedy at kkennedy@fivecolleges.edu or 413.256.8316.

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