Difficult Dialogues II
• Educate about and promote academic freedom and free speech principles and practices
• Foster open dialogue about issues that have provoked conflict on campus among different faith, cultural and political groups
• Educate students, faculty, staff, and the larger community about different perspectives focused on conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians
• Offer training in conflict resolution and dialogue for undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty
• Create opportunities for students in conflicting groups to engage in cooperative civic engagement events, e.g. alternative spring break, Habitat for Humanity, etc.
• Broaden local, state and national political leaders’ understanding of the campus’ efforts, featuring Difficult Dialogues and understanding of academic freedom, First Amendment rights and the actual campus climate
For the second phase of our Difficult Dialogues program, UCI introduced a new strand to our original themes to illuminate questions of democracy and civic engagement: how do we reach the correct balance between the principles of diversity, equality, and freedom – when conflicts and imbalance between these principles produces repression, censorship and other infringements of civil rights. By providing students with more opportunities to directly engage in the real concerns and problems of local communities that are created by such imbalances, we hope to stimulate on-going civic engagement. We promote life-long learning, and that must include life-long civic engagement.
A second new strand for our program is to educate more of the public about our campus, the programs we have that offer alternative educational opportunities to student-sponsored events, and describe our Difficult Dialogues program.
The minor in Civic and Community Engagement is an interdisciplinary program that seeks to provide students with the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values to engage as citizens and active community members in the twenty-first century. The minor is distinguished both by what students learn, and by how they learn it.
Classroom and Public Lectures
The project features a series of on-campus speakers on themes of academic freedom and pluralism that will culminate in the final national Difficult Dialogues conference being held at UC Irvine in April 2010. We continue our practice of partnering with allied academic schools and departments when their speakers’ and event themes are appropriate to Difficult Dialogues. Students in any course on campus dealing with the Middle East, conflict resolution or international affairs are encouraged to attend these events as part of their course work. To strengthen relations with the community, members of local civic groups, temples, mosques, churches, and grassroots organizations are invited to participate.
While respecting the students’ autonomy in creating and leading The Olive Tree Initiative, Difficult Dialogues provides fiscal support for administrative aspects and publication preparation related to the student-led project. The Spring 2009 special edition of Expressions / Impressions was devoted to the students’ writing and graphic responses to the trip to the Middle East in September 2008. A second group of students traveled in September 2009.
A selective program that allows participants
the chance to engage in unique workshops and challenging dialogues focused
on such topics as diversity, social justice, free speech, and conflict