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Office of the Vice Chancellor Student Affairs University of California, Irvine
Dificult Dialogues

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About the Project

Campus Committee

Principles of Community

About the Project

UCI Difficult Dialogues

Imagining the Future: Dissent, Dialogue and the Freedom to Inquire

Building on continuing attempts to protect academic freedom, our project will use approaches drawn from peace-building and respect initiatives already under way to foster productive dialogue on campus. The project will develop and launch three new courses designed to educate students about contemporary issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, traditions of religious conflict and religious tolerance, and peace building.

The first course, Religious Diversity and Conflict, jointly developed by faculty in religious studies and in conflict resolution, will be submitted for approval for one or more requirements that all undergraduate students must fulfill. The second will be a two-quarter pilot seminar entitled Imagining the Future. The third course, for upper-division students, will be a series of seminars on the Politics and Ethics of Difference.

In addition to these courses, the university will develop a series of teaching seminars to increase the ability of faculty and graduate teaching assistants to facilitate dialogue in existing courses that deal with sensitive topics. Workshops will offer participation in the conflict resolution process, and experts will promote dialogue both on and off campus.

Finally, the project includes a year-long series of lectures and other public events designed to heighten understanding of religious and ethnic conflict, peace-building approaches, and successful collaborations that have grown out of situations once dominated by conflict.

Ford Foundation

Difficult Dialogues Promoting Pluralism and Academic Freedom on Campus

The Ford Foundation selected 27 higher education institutions to receive grants of $100,000 each for projects that promote campus environments where sensitive subjects can be discussed in a spirit of open scholarly inquiry, academic freedom and with respect for different viewpoints.

Difficult Dialogues was created in response to reports of growing intolerance and efforts to curb academic freedom at colleges and universities. The goal is to help institutions address this challenge through academic and campus programs that enrich learning, encourage new scholarship and engage students and faculty in constructive dialogues about contentious political, religious, racial and cultural issues.