Listening For A Change
“Listening for a Change” is a program in which students, faculty and staff share our thoughts, ideas, and concerns as an expression of our commitment to building community and as a means of enhancing our individual capacity to listen with compassion. A university-wide effort to increase dialogue on campus began in the spring of 2011 with "Campus Conversations for Change." Now called Listening for a Change (L4C), groups of 10-12 participants meet on a regular basis to listen, to learn, and to grow from this year-long experience. Each group is moderated by a pair of Denisonians, usually composed of one student and one faculty/staff member.
- The official registration form to join Listening for a Change for the upcoming spring term is now available! Click Here. Registrations will be accepted until Monday, January 7, 2013, or until all spots have been filled. Note: If you are already in an L4C dialogue group you do NOT need to re-register.
AS A REMINDER TO ALL PARTICIPANTS:
Please note the following commitments for this year's program for all PARTICIPANTS (co-facilitators included):
- Required attendance at the remaining Listening for a Change meetings (11:45am—1:15pm: Jan. 24, Feb. 28, Mar. 28, Apr. 25).
For all CO-FACILITATORS: Also required is attendance at co-facilitator training sessions throughout the academic year (the Monday just prior to each L4C Thursday dialogue, at 6:30pm in the Open House).
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are responses from the Listening for a Change Steering Committee regarding some of our most frequently asked questions. If you have further questions about this program, please contact Mark Anthony Arceño at firstname.lastname@example.org with your inquiry.
Different groups use and define "dialogue" in a number of ways. Listening for a Change borrows the definition as suggested by Dr. Harold Saunders, Founder and President of the International Institute for Sustained Dialogue (IISD), defining dialogue as "a process of genuine interaction through which human beings listen to each other deeply enough to be changed by what they learn."
Listening for a Change is a program designed for intentional dialogue among students, faculty, and staff in ways that benefit individual participants as well as the the Denison community. Its mission is based upon four primary objectives:
- To empathize by listening to and understanding perspectives that can be vastly different from our own.
- To bridge the continuum of thought, dialogue, and action—a skill that has relevance in all aspects of our lives.
- To engage with the issues of our time, particularly as they relate to power, as well as individual and collective identities.
- To cultivate a sense of community for all on Denison's campus and beyond, through communication, understanding, and knowledge.
In contrast to the other dialogue groups on Denison's campus (see the list below), Listening for a Change aims to bring all Denisonians--faculty (general and teaching), staff (administrative and support operating), and students--to the dialogue table. As a collective, the participants of each group decide which topics to talk about. In addition, the co-moderators of each group meet once a month in preparation for the dialogue.
Four other dialogic groups exist on campus. For more information, please contact the program faciliatators:
- The Amava Dialogues: Mr. Mark Anthony Arceño, email@example.com, Office of Multi-Cultural Student Affairs
This group is open to all male faculty, staff, and students, and meets at least once a month. Selected topics intersect with the overarching theme of "What is masculinity?"
- Denison Religious Understanding: Rev. Mark Orten, firstname.lastname@example.org, Center for Religious and Spiritual Life
This group is open to all students, in celebration of all faith/non-faith traditions, and meets weekly in the Open House. Selected topics of interest are discussed over a shared meal.
- Sister-Leaders in Dialogue: Dr. Toni King, email@example.com, Office of the Provost, and Dr. Sonya Turner, firstname.lastname@example.org, Health & Counseling Services
This group is open to all female students, faculty and administrative staff, and meets bi-monthly. Selected topics focus on leadership issues and psychosocial stressors impacting women of color currently in or seeking leadership roles.
- Sustained Dialogue: Ms. Ana Morales, email@example.com, DU Sustained Dialogue President, and Mr. Erik Farley, firstname.lastname@example.org, SD Advisor, Office of Multi-Cultural Student Affairs
This group is open to all Denison students. Small groups meet on a regularly scheduled basis and discuss issues including but not limited to race and diversity. Membership selection is through an application process.
Ultimately, the amount of relative gain received from the program is proportional to the amount of commitment given to the program. The stories and experiences shared at each meeting are in themselves life-changing (we give you the room to decide the extent of change) and meaningful to each participant. Having said this, here are a few testimonials from past participants:
- “I have developed new friendships with colleagues and students and am building bridges and collaborations across the campus community. I don't feel as separated or pigeon-holed as I did before I joined this group.”
- “Talking is always easy - but I learned to really share MY thoughts, ideas, and not use generalizations or try to 'persuade', just state what I believe. It was a challenge at first, but now I find myself doing that in all my conversations.”
- "Listening for a Change places Denison community members from different parts of the campus together and provides the opportunity to share information and insight. This is a much-needed vehicle on Denison's campus. The program also provides the opportunity to learn/practice/build listening, dialogue, and other communication skills-- key skills for life as a mature adult (a professional or a community member)."
- “One of the major strengths of Listening for a Change is its ability to bring people together for an hour of processing all the many ideas we confront in our daily busy lives. I don't believe there are other opportunities for us to do this as a campus, to not take in something completely new but rather to think about what's happening already on campus and how we can steer these ideas and actions toward what we hope Denison can become.”
- “It was a great opportunity for me to find out what staff and faculty think and what students do in their time off of A-quad. I really enjoyed the frankness that we could share -- I found that we share a lot of the same concerns.”
- “As a staff member this interaction instilled in me the need to be involved with the community beyond my job on campus so I plan to continue to be engaged with the community in a more active way.”
- “I learned there are many ways that I can contribute to make Denison better for someone else. Hearing the concerns of others helped sensitize me to what I can do.”
- “While it is hard for me to pinpoint a single take-away, I can't help but to wonder what my year would have been like if not part of these dialogues. If anything, it underscores to me how important talking with others and weighing multiple perspectives in conversation is for a campus community. I would like to see more people become involved in this--these dialogues certainly make us more mindful of issues facing the campus community (many of which I would not have considered otherwise).”
Students who participate in L4C develop skills sought after by employers and graduate schools. The experience exposes students to an atmosphere that encourages critical thinking, oral communication, leadership development and analysis.
Following the deadline to apply (September 7th for interested co-mods; September 14th for all participants), the L4C Steering Committee Coordinator (Mark Anthony Arceño) and Dialogue Fellow (Michael Ivy '13) use the information gathered from the online form to create the dialogue groups. Every effort is made to make the groups as diverse as possible, with particular attention placed on the wide variety of involvement of the dialogue participants. If demographic data is provided, such information will be helpful in our aim to achieve demographic balance (specifically along lines of gender and race/ethnicity). In addition, the most ideal situation will be one in which no two participants who have been in the same group in the past will be in a group in any given year.
Dialogue groups meet seven times throughout the academic year with the same members each time. Each group is moderated by two members of the Denison community who have volunteered to serve in this role. Typically, the co-mod pairing will include a student and a faculty/staff member.
The co-mods help to facilitate dialogue and guide participants through each meeting, always keeping in mind the group norms created by the group, as well as the mission statement of this program. They are also responsible for keeping track of time and for leading the group through a set of debriefing questions prior to the conclusion of the meeting. In addition, all co-mods attend co-mod training (each Monday before the Thursday dialogue) throughout the academic year to build on their moderating skills for the benefit of their respective group.
Every group has its own dynamic, which develops out of the participants and their interests. That said, the basic structure of a monthly gathering of a dialogue group is fairly common: the co-moderators begin the meeting and briefly review the norms that the members have agreed to observe in each of their meetings. The dialogue itself, which occupies most of the group's time together, may arise from an event on campus, a question or request from a group member, or a theme suggested by the co-moderators. In some groups, members bring their lunch, particularly if they have classes or other commitments before and after the dialogue.
At this time, we would prefer that all participants commit to all dialogue meetings. Due to the difficult challenge of organizing each group to be as experientially diverse as possible, ONLY registrations received by Friday, September 14, can and will be accepted. If you CANNOT commit to at least the fall, we ask that you do not sign up at this time.
Having said this, there will be a limited opportunity to join a dialogue group (provided there are enough co-moderators and/or spaces to accomodate the additions) in the spring. Registration for the last four dialogues typically happens in December. Contact L4C coordinator Mark Anthony Arceño (email@example.com) immediately if you intend to register for the spring dialogues.