School of Education News

On Wisconsin magazine spotlights Counseling Psychology's Diversity Dialogues program

March 21, 2019

On Wisconsin, UW-Madison’s alumni magazine, posted a cover story headlined, “Room for Debate: In a polarized world, UW-Madison fosters tough conversations.”

Research shows that, for the first time in more than two decades, members of both political parties have strongly unfavorable opinions of their opponents. Often, people end up congregating almost exclusively with others who share the same demographic profiles.

Cover of On, WisconsinLuckily, though, many at UW-Madison are actively seeking, encouraging, and developing the ability to discuss difficult topics — and not just politics.  

Among those featured is the work of the School of Education’s Department of Counseling Psychology

Started almost 15 years ago, the Department of Counseling Psychology implemented a program to foster greater equality, inclusion, and understanding across differences. Diversity Dialogues was originally made to address regional differences between students; it now is used as a conversational platform for students from different racial, ethnic, gender, and class backgrounds.

Steve Quintana, a professor with the Department of Counseling Psychology and the director of Diversity Dialogues, tells On Wisconsin that the primary objective of this group is to help students recognize that all people are “living rich, interesting, and complex lives.”

Quintana and others act as facilitators, giving participants different cues and helping to maintain a respectful balance. The cues ask participants to share experiences with the group, like describing pivotal childhood experiences, or their own negative or positive experiences of diversity. A running rule is that no one can interrupt whoever is speaking for at least 90 seconds. 

Participants later shared with Quintana that engaging in Diversity Dialogues made them feel more flexible and open. Quintana tells On Wisconsin that “windows into the depths of people’s experience is rewarding.”

Read the full story here.


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