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Dialogues Program at MSU Denver

Conflict is a normal part of life. But it is not always a comfortable one. Lean into the discomfort and join us to dialogue about difficult topics in a meaningful way.

What is Dialogue?

Dialogue is not debate or discussion. Rather, dialogue is a process where we invite inquiry, explore differences, and build shared understandings.

In our campus community, the Dialogues Program brings together students, faculty, and staff to participate in small-group facilitated dialogues. Dialogue brings people together to deeply engage in listening, sharing our lived experiences and challenges us to think about different perspectives other than our own. Above all, dialogue is about having a space to learn from each other despite differences and to create change by talking about action. 

You can download a Dialogues Program Overview document here: Dialogues Program Overview  (PDF).  

Check out our Dialouge@MSUDenver Padlet to learn more about dialogue, get resources related to our dialogue sessions, and more! 

The Dialogues Program is a joint partnership between the Communication Studies Department and the Dean of Students Office. 

All dialogues are different. As a participant in dialogue, you may engage in facilitated discussion, self-reflection, small group discussions, and activities. Typically, a dialogue consists of about 15 people with 2 facilitators. The facilitators will have a plan for the flow of dialogue, but ultimately it is up to the participants on where it goes. 

You should expect dialogue to be uncomfortable. Dialogue bridges the gap of understanding by allowing for space where people bravely confront uncomfortable conversations with vulnerability, trust, and openness. By allowing people to voluntarily enter a situation where they know they will be sharing opinions that will be challenged, and listening to others' opinions and struggles, dialogue helps us understand each other in a deeper way. Engaging in dialogue is not easy and it can be difficult building trust in a room full of potential strangers or over virtual platforms.

The purpose of dialogue is to uphold each person's dignity, challenge each other's perspectives, and be respectful of each other's voice. The beginning of each dialogue will start with norms and community building to ensure that we are all on the same page. Facilitators guide the dialogue and help the group uphold the norms.

Dialogues are offered through a semester-based series, single opportunities, and can be tailored to fit the classroom, department meeting, student organization event, program discussion, in your community-based organization, and in other settings. We also can host and facilitate other events that encourage community building and understanding. 

If you are interested in bringing dialogue to you or partnering on a dialogue event, please contact Elise Krumholz at

We will collaborate with you to develop and facilitate a dialogue to help you address a complex or contentious issue. During the initial consultation, we will discuss what you would like to achieve, how to prepare your class/program/organization for dialogue, and what the facilitated dialogue will look like. 

To better understand what makes dialogue, dialogue, please explore the difference between Dialogue, Debate & Discussion:

(Adapted from The National Intergroup Dialogue Institute (n.d.)







Broaden our own perspective   Succeed or win    Present ideas
Look for a shared meaning   Look for weakness   Seek answers and solutions
Find places of agreement   Stress disagreement   Persuade others
Express paradox and ambiguity   Defend our opinion   Enlist others
Bring out areas of ambivalence   Focus on 'right' or 'wrong'    Share information
Allow for and invite differences of opinion and experience   Advocate one perspective or opinion   Solve our own and others' problems
Ask questions and invite inquiry
Discover collective meaning   Search for flaws in logic   Give answers
Challenge ourselves and other's preconceived notions   Judge other viewpoints as inferior, invalid or distorted   Achieve preset goals
Explore thoughts and feelings   Deny other's feelings   Acknowledge feelings, then discount them as inappropriate
Listen without judgment and with a view to understand   Listen with a view of countering   Listen for places of disagreement
Validate other's experiences and feelings   Discount the validity of feelings   Avoid feelings
Articulate areas of conflict and difference   Focus on the conflict and difference as advantage   Avoid areas of strong conflict and difference
Build relationships   Disregard relationships   Retain relationships
Honor silence   Use silence to gain advantage   Avoid silence 

Summer 2020 Dialogue Series

How Do We Talk About Race?

The death of black men and women due to police violence and deep rooted systemic racism have resulted in protests across the country (and the world). As a result, many in the campus community may be struggling to identify how they feel, provide support to others, engage with others on social media, talk with their family and friends, or with their coworkers about what is going on and about race.  

The Dialogues Program recognizes the importance to listen and share with each other about what is happening right now. And the importance of action. We also understand that the now includes our current context of covid-19 and experiencing a health crisis that has wide ranging ripple effects, as well.

We will be hosting several events this summer, starting with a Livestream Event on June 12th where Dr. Katia Campbell will be moderating a panel of Black scholars from across the University as they discuss, How Do We Talk About What’s Going On?

Also, listen in to Dr. Katia Campbell talk with Dr. Janine Davidson, MSU Denver President, talk about the Dialouges Program here

We will also be hosting smaller facilitated dialogue sessions over Microsoft Teams as part of the overall series. To learn more about the full series, to go to the Livestream event, or to RSVP for the dialogue sessions, scroll down. 

A note on the summer schedule:

Please be aware that the dialogue sessions may have limited capacity. You may be placed on a waitlist if you sign-up after we have reached our capacity for those events. We will let you know if spots open up and if we are able to plan an additional session. We also recognize that there may be a session that you cannot attend. We scheduled the sessions for different days and times in the hopes that there is an option that may work for you. 

Students Walking in front of the Tivoli Student Union during winter with snow on the ground

Listen to the Recording from the June 12th Livestream: How Do We Talk About What's Going On?

Listen In to a Livestreamed Panel of MSU Denver Scholars

Moderated by Dr. Katia Campbell, Communication Studies & Faculty Senate President, the scholars will discuss what is happening now regarding George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, protests and more. The panel will also discuss dialogue, what is it, its benefits and its limits.
Aerial View of students walking towards the Jordan Student Success Building

Wednesday, June 24 | 2 - 3:30pm | Dialogue: How Do We Talk to Our Kids?

Check below for resources on how to talk to your kids about race

This dialogue will cover talking about race and what is going on right now with kids. The dialogue will uncover how these conversations look different based on our identities and experiences. The dialogue will include discussion about how families of color often have "the talk" with their kids and what that means. The dialogue will also include discussion about how white parents explain racism to children.
Students Sitting in front of St. Cajetan's during fall

Tuesday, July 7 | 11 - 12:30pm | Dialogue: How Do We Talk to Our Friends and Family?

RSVP to Dialogue over Microsoft Teams

Talking with our families and friends about race can be difficult, especially if many of your conversations end in disagreement. This dialogue will have the group discuss how to encourage openness in the heart and mind during these conversations. The dialogue will also include discussion about how to provide support to our loved ones if they experience racism and/or are reflecting on their relationship with oppression.
Students walking in opposite direction on campus

Friday, July 24 | 3:30 - 5pm | Dialogue: How Do We Talk to Strangers?

RSVP to Dialogue with others over Microsoft Teams

Outside of our immediate circles, how do we talk with people we don't know about race? This may include people you are engaging with over social media, at the protests, others on campus or in your classes, and people that you meet through others that don't see things the way you do. These interactions can be intense and challenging in a different way.
Students sitting in the lobby of the Jordan Student Success Building

Tuesday, August 4 | 1 - 2:30pm | Dialogue: How Do We Talk to Our Co-Workers?

RSVP to Dialogue with others over Microsoft Teams

The last dialogue of our summer series will dive into talking about issues related to race that come up in the workplace. How do we handle watercooler talk? How do we talk with our teammates or address issues that come up in our department? How do we approach those conversations based on our identities and experiences?
Questions? Want to know more about Dialogues?

Please feel free to reach out to us with questions:

Communication Studies: 

Katia Campbell, Associate Professor, Communication Studies & Faculty Senate President

Dan Lair, Chair & Associate Professor, Communication Studies


Dean of Students Office: 

Elise Krumholz, Coordinator for Student Conflict Resolution Services 

Thomas Ragland, Director of Student Accountability & Behavioral Intervention

Dean of Students Office Phone Number: 303-615-0220

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