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One America - Program on Intergroup Relations, Conflict, and Community

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One America

Program: Program on Intergroup Relations, Conflict, and Community, Ann Arbor, MI
Contact(s): David Schoem, Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Education: (313) 763-7139
Purpose: To improve students' understanding of and respect for diversity and to increase students' skills in responding to intergroup conflicts

Background Program Operations Outcomes


Founded in 1988 during a period of heightened racial and ethnic tensions on campus, the Intergroup Relations, Conflict, and Community (IGRCC) program promotes constructive cross-racial and cross-cultural interactions among the university's diverse students. This interaction helps students learn how to work with people of different races.

Program Operations

The IGRCC program includes four major components:

(1) academic courses (including first-year seminars, upper-level courses, community service learning courses, and mini-courses on more discrete issues) designed to educate students about issues surrounding intergroup relations, conflict, and community;

(2) intergroup dialogues among people of different racial, and ethnic backgrounds. These dialogues bring students from different cultural backgrounds together to learn about each other and work through any fears and uncertainties they may have. The dialogues are led by trained student facilitators and are offered on a wide range of issues, such as "People of Color and White People," "Latinos and Latinas," "Blacks and Jews," and "Latinos and Blacks." Each dialogue meets periodically for one semester, and students receive academic credit for participating;

(3) training programs for student facilitators who will lead these intergroup dialogues; and,

(4) workshops on current topics or concerns.

Within each component, the IGRCC program promotes a multi-faceted approach, bringing members of the university's diverse student body together for study, dialogue, and/or community service.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

Preliminary research, including feedback from student participants, shows that the intergroup dialogues have been successful in improving students' understanding of themselves and others and in helping students learn to manage conflict. Based on its IGRCC program and other diversity programs, the University of Michigan has been chosen by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC and U) to serve as a resource institution in the AAC and U's American Commitments Project, a program that is part of the Ford Foundation's Campus Diversity Initiative.

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