Learning Community Facilitation and Group Resources

We encourage all participants to use our online learning community resources. Please review the materials below to understand the goals of the learning community and how to get the most of out this experience and complete the self-assessment before the first session.

The Plan

As a community we value diversity and equity and strive for inclusive excellence everywhere on our campus but we sometimes fall short of our highest ideals. As a community, we can and will do better. Building community requires us to use strategies and tips to treat one another with dignity and respect. Nothing, however, takes the place of conversation to best understand what respect looks like to one another. Book discussions will be spaces to help develop these skills and unpack challenges to respectful community. Please note that we are all in this together. If there is need for a representative from the Office of Equity and Inclusion to foster community-building, that can be accommodated. 

Print and distribute this overview of the Learning Communities (link goes to a pdf) for your group.

Weekly Discussion Guides

Ground Rules

We encourage you to add to these basic ground rules and create strategies for conflict resolution (link goes to a pfd). A representative from the Office of Equity and Inclusion is available upon request if adhering to the ground rules presents difficulty. 

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.

Ensuring Productive Conversations

We have come together as a group to have respectful discussions about how to engage across difference. As we move through these concepts and tips, we will engage in discussions about subjects that many of us may think about, but aren’t usually comfortable talking about in mixed company or any company. This is intended as a supportive space for us to engage in these discussions without fear of judgement or condemnation: there isn’t a person here who hasn’t gotten it wrong before, or won’t get it wrong again. Due to the subject matter we’re dealing with, there is always the potential for disagreement. For example, a member may express that a particular example of bias—from the book or as described by a fellow participant—isn’t really bias in their opinion. While they may not have meant any harm with this sentiment, others may still feel offended and marginalized as a result, and may wish to withdraw from the discussion. We can decide right now—as a group—how we want to manage these moments when they occur, especially when disagreement escalates to conflict or overt disrespect. For example, we may opt to pause the conversation, identify the comments or ideas that are causing conflict or discomfort, and then each take a moment to write down our reactions on an index card. We can then decide collectively how we would like to continue and re-enter the conversation, and ensure that we engage—not avoid—that moment or behavior in a manner that all participants are comfortable with.

As you work to manage conflict, it is important to bear in mind the objectives of the session or questions at hand.  Refer to these objectives (which are included in your conversation guides) when you pause, so that you can remind yourselves--as a group--what it is that you are trying to achieve through this discussion.

Additional Resources:

  1. Read our resource on Building Respectful Learning Communities (behaviors that undermine and foster dignity and respect in discussion groups) 
  2. Read these tips for talking about identity.