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Institute for Transformative Dialogue

About the Institute for Transformative Dialogue

The Institute for Transformative Dialogue is a cross-campus partnership to foster excellence in the ways our community engages across differences. Supported by the division of Student Affairs and the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS), the Institute supports curricula, programs, and trainings that nurture our abilities to learn and work effectively across social group dynamics, especially across groups with a history of conflict or unequal relations.  The mission of the Institute is grounded in the educational framework of “intergroup dialogue,” which a large body of evidence has shown to be effective in building understanding, communication, and collaboration across these divides.  The Institute draws upon the expertise of faculty and professionals in the academic and student services divisions with experience in intergroup dialogue methods.



Since IGD-based courses were first developed at CMU in 2008, the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences has steadily increased offerings in the Cultural and Global Studies (CGL) program of an introductory-level dialogue course focusing on racism and discrimination. These courses, now serving over 300 students each year, engage students in small-group dialogues facilitated by trained undergraduate peers. The Institute is supporting further curricular development for IGD-based courses across other dimensions of identity and difference. The crucial training for peer facilitators has been supported by a partnership between Cultural and Global Studies faculty and staff in the Center for Student Inclusion and Diversity (CSID). The fruit of this partnership has also included dialogue-based programming for staff, faculty, and students offered through the CSID.

Recognizing the promise of this cross-unit partnership to expand its positive impact on the climate for inclusion at CMU, the 2017 CMU Equity and Inclusion Task Force issued among its priority recommendations for CMU to "programmatically embed thoughtful, constructive dialogue about and across differences throughout the CMU experience, preparing students for leadership in a diverse world." This recommendation aligned the high-impact practice of intergroup dialogue with the leadership learning goals of the ongoing Cross-Campus Leadership Initiative, which aims to develop capacities for inclusive leadership by fostering identity development, healthy relationships, and social responsibility.  The intergroup dialogue faculty and staff from CLASS and CID began an initiative in the summer of 2017 to develop a sequenced curriculum in facilitator training and intergroup engagement that extends across the CMU student experience. Through partnerships with a growing number of offices, CMU has begun offering more opportunities for students to develop competence and comfort in engagement across differences and to build the leadership skills to facilitate this engagement for others. 

By providing ongoing cross-divisional support for collaboration in embedding high-impact practices grounded in intergroup dialogue education across academic, co-curricular, and professional development programs, the Institute for Transformative Dialogue underwrites an ongoing commitment to making intergroup dialogue learning a signature feature of the CMU student experience.

Co-Directors of the Institute
Shannon Jolliff-Dettore

Co-Director of Institute for Transformative Dialogue, Director of LGBTQ Services and Gender Equity

Andy Blom

Co-Director of Institute for Transformative Dialogue, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy and


Graduate Assistants
Michelle Hill

Graduate Assistant for the Institute of Transformative Dialogue

Emmy Montgomery

Graduate Assistant for the Institute of Transformative Dialogue


Peer Dialogue Facilitators

Every semester, CMU students serve as facilitators for intergroup dialogues among their peers.  The learning that occurs through dialogue is possible because of the work of this group of talented, wise, and dedicated students.


Intergroup Dialogue Faculty
Jared Halter

Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in Intergroup Dialogue, Affiliate faculty in Women and Gender Studies

Sara Moslener

Lecturer in Religion, Affiliate faculty in Cultural and Global Studies, Women and Gender Studies

Carlin Borsheim-Black

Professor of English Education

Kelly Murphy

Associate Professor in Religion, Affiliate faculty in Women and Gender Studies