Learning Community Conversation Guide for Session 2 – Implicit Bias

Suggested Reading: Habits 2 (p11-14), 12 (p57-60), 13 (p61-64), and 15 (p71-74) 

Start: Welcome participants back to this space

Re-Introductions: Go around the room, beginning with moderator: name, pronouns (if they’re comfortable), role on campus  

Ground Rules for Discussion: Review out loud the bolded portions of the OEI-provided Ground Rules and, if applicable, the additional rules your group agreed upon in the introductory session (and since). 

  • Speak Your Truth: Share from your own experiences
  • Seek to Understand: Actively listen, before responding 
  • Respect Others’ Experience: We may have different OR similar stories to share, and contexts to draw from. All are legitimate. 
  • Disagree Without Discord: Disagreement is expected. HOWEVER,
    • Approach unexpected ideas with curiosity, not argument. 
    • If you disagree, debate and challenge ideas. Don’t attack the speaker. 
  • Share the Air: Make room for all voices to be heard, and don’t dominate the conversation. 
  • Confidentiality: 
    • Share stories and experiences, but don’t identify individual people or provide details that would allow someone in your story to be identified. 
    • Do not share the experiences you hear in this space outside this space. 

Conflict Management: Review the conflict management procedures your group created together in your introductory session. 

Questions (about anything?)

Group Discussion: Paraphrase the italicized portion as desired. 

“As Vernā herself has learned from her own behavior, having biases isn’t about being a good or bad person: humans have biases, and they are shaped and manifested as we go about our day-to-day lives. Our biases are often unconscious or implicit, and because of that, they can be harder to recognize. 

We have both in-group and out-group biases—that is, we may favor someone who is “like us” in some key way when it otherwise may not be warranted, or we may regard or treat someone negatively because they aren’t like us somehow, even if they haven’t actively done anything to deserve it (other than just being who they are). 

The moments when our biases are expressed to others or are acted on can be activated by stress, or by feeling that we’re not in control. We may retreat to our biases because they are what’s most familiar to us, even when, as a result, we have created or contributed to a negative social interaction.” 


Choose one Q. for discussion, or spend 10-15 min on each. Or let participants come up with topic(s) 

A) Have you taken Harvard’s Implicit Bias Self-Assessment? What did you learn about yourself? Did the results of your assessment differ from how you would have assessed yourself? 

Objective: Our biases drive our day-to-day actions and reactions, but we often don’t notice them and maybe don’t even know—or believe—that we have them. The goal of the self-assessment and this discussion is to recognize and reflect on the role our biases can play in our interactions with others. 

B) Think about a moment where you expressed—or recognized that you felt—bias against someone: what was going on during that interaction or event that may have elicited this response, or way of thinking in you? 

Objective: Stress or feelings that we’re not in control can cause us to demonstrate possibly deeply-held biases. The goal of this discussion is to reflect on the outside factors that can lead to us demonstrating this bias, so that we can be more mindful of our reactions when those moments next arrive. 

C) Can you recall a choice you’ve recently made involving someone else (not allowing them to cut you in line, greeting them in the hallway, holding the door for them, etc.), that at least in part may have reflected some bias in you? Perhaps it was based on a stereotype you may have had about ‘people like us’ or ‘people like them?’ Did the person you felt bias for or against ultimately conform to your stereotype or assumption about them, or did they prove your notions wrong? How will you do it next time? 

Objective: In our many interactions, we often have the direct opportunity to either assist someone in need, or prevent them from getting what they need. The goal of this discussion is to reflect on how we think about people or who/how we may assume they are, can affect whether we help them and how. 

Next Sessions 

Would anyone like to volunteer to facilitate the next session, “Seeing the Humanity in Others?” Our Logistical Facilitator can email us for volunteers later, if no one wants to decide now.