Navigating difficult dialogues with anyone isn't always easy. And now, more than ever, it needs to be our collective responsibility to continue developing our skills to navigate our interpersonal interactions so that growth and learning can result. One of the first and most powerful moves you can make is viewing conflict or those difficult moments as an opportunity for learning and connection to occur.
These resources below are simply a starting point. If you have additional resources we could add to this list, please send us an email ( ).
Two free handbooks on how to navigate difficult dialogues
The University of Alaska Anchorage with Alaska Pacific University created Start Talking for professors seeking guidance on how to engage with students on "some of the most important topics of our time." For an array of resources, visit their website.
Resuming class after the election & other critical events in the news
Informal and formal dialogues are occurring between faculty on what we can do in light of yet another national display of explicit racism in Charlottesville. If you have other teaching related ideas to add here send them directly to .
- The first thing teachers should do when school starts is talk about hatred in America. Here's help, Washington Post (thanks for sharing Jonathan Martinez, Psychology)
- Teachers on Twitter are crowd sourcing ideas on how to respond in the classroom in response to Charlottesville #CharlottesvilleCurriculum (thanks for sharing Monica Garcia, Secondary Education)
- Ten ways to stop hate: A community resource guide (thanks for sharing Cedric Hackett, Africana Studies)
- Surviving and resisting hate: A toolkit for people of color (#ICRacelab) (thanks for sharing Jennie Quinonez-Skinner, Librarian)
- What UVA did wrong when white supremacists came to campus, LA Times (thanks for sharing Virginia Huynh, Child & Adolescent Development)
The University of Michigan's Center for Research on Learning & Teaching provided insights on how professors can engage with students about the election results. This website includes guidelines for discussing difficult or controversial topics and responding to difficult moments.
Ideas on how to navigate discussions about difference in the classroom
- Kathryn Sorrells (Communication Chair) developed an Intercultural Praxis model as a tool for navigating the complexities of cultural differences and power differences in intercultural situations. This can help students critically reflect on their positionality and cultural frames building their capacity in addressing issues of difference and power. Learning Activity for Navigating Difficult Dialogues
- CSUN's former Chief Diversity Officer, Raji Rhys invited Faculty Development to co-create this 5.5 tips on how to turn Challenging Classroom Discussions into a Tool to Accelerate Learning.
Open The Front Door: 4 steps when navigating difficult moments with anyone
When someone says something upsetting, what are your options for responding? Do you freeze, flee, or even fight back? What if there was another option that could result with deeper learning and understanding? What exact words can be said in that exact moment?
Drs Cynthia Ganote, Floyd Cheung, & Tasha Souza discuss using a 4-step communication approach called Open The Front Door (based on the work called Non-Violent Communication), to navigate micro-aggressions or any other conflicting moment.
The four steps are to make statements about: Observations- Thinking- Feeling- Desires. To learn about the steps, check out their handout.
Who else at CSUN can help faculty learn these skills?
We have a host of experts right here at CSUN who have been doing this work in the classroom for years. Consider getting involved with these campus organizations/programs/grants/offices: