Course Spotlight: Dialogue across differences and airwaves

Barbara Tint

Q and A with Barbara Tint

How have you been able to adjust with teaching remotely due to COVID-19?

Who would have thought that meaningful connection and deep dialogue could happen within the confines of 13 little squares on a screen? As the instructor of the CRES elective Dialogue across Differences, I was hopeful, but dubious, prior to the remote version of the second half of the course during the spring term move to online instruction. The course is an experiential workshop exploring the theory and practice of dialogue as a tool for dealing with group conflicts and differing perspectives. Yet, somehow, there was alchemy and we had the most wonderful experience.

How do you incorporate experiential learning in your course?

The course, an experiential workshop exploring the theory and practice of dialogue as a tool for dealing with group conflicts, used interactive activities and student-facilitated groups to dig into concepts and explore theory, process, methods, and current issues.

What makes this class so effective, both in-person and remote?

It seems, whether in person or online, the keys are deep listening, reflection, suspension of judgment, authenticity, and seeing each other’s humanity [in order to disrupt the assumption that] others in our ‘bubbles’ think the same as us. It is only when you create safe space for difference and inquiry, rather than debate, that honest differences emerge. With skill and intent, they can be explored and unpacked, and change can occur.

Why is dialogue important now, more than ever?

According to Harold Saunders, a former US diplomat and author of A Public Peace Process, ‘Dialogue is a process of genuine interaction through which human beings listen to each other deeply enough to be changed by what they learn.’ Now, more than ever, we need these skills to reach across the divides growing in our society. Lastly, after sitting at length, we put on music and danced. That helps in real life, too.

Student Perspective: Langston Mayo CRES ’21

Langston Mayo

“Hands down, one of the shining moments of my time in CRES was taking Dr. Barbara Tint’s Dialogue across Differences course, which was online due to COVID-19. I had large reservations about this course being ‘reduced’ to a remote-only experience; however, it was an experience which can never be duplicated. Dr. Tint’s facilitation of the course was a master class to say the least, challenging us to be as present and true with one another as possible despite our virtual limitations. Dr. Tint’s saying, ‘The best kind of facilitator can leave the room and the group may not notice their absence,’ came to life in this remote course, for our small-group interactions without our instructor were the most rewarding. I can’t speak highly enough for someone who led the best Zoom class, which didn’t use a stale cycle of lecture, PowerPoint, and awkward Q&A. Dr. Tint demonstrated that having expertise in a subject area will only take you so far— having a teaching pedagogy rooted in facilitation and ‘doing whatever is in favor of the group’ will leave a lasting mark on students for years to come.” Langston Mayo CRES ’21

By School of Law Communications