2015 UT Diversity Summit – Joe Miles

My name is Rickey Hall and I am the vice chancellor for diversity at the University of Tennessee Knoxville and I’m indeed pleased to be here with you all this afternoon. It is my honor to
introduce our next speaker. Dr. Joe Miles joined the University of Tennessee
Knoxville faculty in 2010 as an assistant professor
of counseling psychology. His research program
focuses on multiculturalism and social justice with two related branches, inter-group dialogue and other group in multicultural interventions and lesbian gay and bisexual issues. He is an editorial board member of the Journal of Counseling Psychology and received the 2014 LGBT Advocate Award from the University of Tennessee Knoxville Chancellor’s Commission for LGBT people. Dr. Miles earned a bachelor’s
degree in psychology and a master’s degree in
educational psychology from the University of
Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He earned a master’s degree and doctorate in counseling psychology from the University of
Maryland College Park. I can personally attest that Dr. Miles works to create brave spaces, spaces where students can struggle with issues of difference. He has been supportive of me, the outreach center on our campus, and most important students. So join me in welcoming Dr. Miles. (audience applause) – Hello, thank you Vice Chancellor Hall for that really nice introduction. I’m really happy to be here today and I want to thank the
Diversity Advisory Council for inviting me and just
to have the opportunity to come and speak to you all and also to hear all the great speakers who have already spoken today and who will speak this afternoon. I was asked to speak about
the psychology of diversity which at first I thought I don’t know exactly what that is, as a psychology professor. It could be a lot of things. So I’ve kind of narrowed it down to things that are kind of
in my areas of expertise that I’m going to talk about today. And so I thought to give you
a little bit of background about where I’m going to be coming from as Vice Chancellor Hall said I am a counseling psychologist at the University of
Tennessee in Knoxville. Our counseling psychology training program is unique among counseling psychology training programs in the country in that we have a training model that is scientist practitioner advocate. And so the advocate piece is the piece that is unique
to our training program and it really emphasizes the need to address social justice issues and I’m going to talk a
little bit about that today in my presentation. But we believe that we train individual and group therapists but then not all problems that people who come to see us face are intra-personal problems that we need to be able to address the context in which our clients are existing and living and growing and a lot of those contexts have racism, sexism, hetero-sexism and other forms of oppression that we need to be able to
address on systemic levels. So that’s kind of where I’m
coming at this talk from. So to give you an overview, first I’m going to give a quick overview of diversity and what
I think we mean by that and the campus climate research. So one of the subtitles that has been — been used in some of the
materials for my talk is about the psychological dimensions that we need to consider in creating an inclusive campus climate. So I’m going to talk a little bit about what campus climate is and what some of the themes are that we know from the
campus climate literature. I’m going to discuss very briefly some minority stressors
that are contributing, that contribute to
differential experiences of campus climate. Some of the research that I do as Vice Chancellor Hall mentioned is around LGB and somewhat T issues, transgender, but primarily LGB issues and internalized heterosexism which is a specific form
of minority stressor. Other people in our department study different forms
of minority stressors like microaggressions, so I’m going to talk briefly about those and how they relate to our campus climate. Then I’m going to focus
a little bit more on my area of expertise which
is inter-group dialogue and as a means for addressing inter-group relations on campus and developing a better campus climate and then finally I’m going to share with you some data that we have from inter-group dialogues
that we’ve been running at the University of Tennessee. I’ve got some both qualitative and quantitative data that shows some of the
impacts of dialogues that we’ve had over the past five years. So in terms of diversity
in higher education basically what we mean
by that in psychology is social differences among people. I think that some of our
speakers this morning, Dr. Kelly especially, gave a really good overview of what we — what diversity might be. I share a lot of her thoughts on that but social differences and
differences among people is basically what we’re talking about. Within both psychology and education there’s a large and
growing body of literature that shows the importance of diversity in higher education. Specifically in terms of learning outcome, so things like intellectual engagement or motivation or academic skills including things like critical thinking can be tied to the amount of diversity at a school or campus and also democracy outcome. So things like civic engagement or perspective taking. Those are some other positive outcomes of diversity on campus. The benefits of diversity can be seen both in including material
into our curriculum but also how to — fostering interactions among diverse individuals on a campus. And so what my argument today
basically is going to be that we need to find ways to really foster meaningful engagement between
individuals on our campus from diverse social identity groups including students, faculty and staff of different races, classes, genders, sexual orientations, religions, ability statuses, veteran statuses, in order to make the most of the diversity we have on our campus. In the campus climate literature Silvia Furtado has some
models of campus climate in which she includes what she calls structural diversity which is kind of the
numerical representation of different groups on our campus. But there are other
psychological dimensions of campus climate that we can leverage that are complimentary
to structural diversity which is necessary but not sufficient in order to really make use of the resource of diversity that
we have on our campuses. So the focus of my talk will be on really fostering campus climate that promotes diversity and social justice through meaningful
inter-group interactions. So just quickly what I — I’ve already used the word
campus climate a few times and I know that some of our
other presenters did as well but to give a definition of kind of how I’m conceptualizing this, we can think of campus
climate as part of the institutional context that includes community members’ attitudes,
perceptions, behaviors and expectations around
issues of diversity. It’s a multidimensional construct so there’s lots of different aspects to it and it’s subject to and shaped by the policies, practices, and behaviors of those within and external to colleges and universities. So that’s kind of what we’re thinking of. It’s a fairly broad
definition of campus climate but I think that the work that
I’m going to be talking about fits within that context. So the research on campus climate in the past few years there have been a couple of — there have been many
studies that have published different measures of campus climate, so we might even look a
little bit more concretely what some of these things might be, so we can include things
like faculty support or university commitments to diversity, so do you have a diversity statement and other resources that you put behind your diversity commitment. Race and gender based relations. This is from one particular
measure by Hutchinson that all, we could say relations
among other groups as well. Climate for diverse groups. So we might ask people
what is the climate like for LGBT people on your campus or what is the climate like for women. Unfair treatment, so asking people about
whether or not they feel that their college or university fairly treats people from
different social identity groups, experiencing insensitive remarks in resources or materials, so I think that the talk we
just heard about communications touches on this, as well as thinking about
the ways in which people are included or excluded or represented or misrepresented in the curricula and other
sources that we have. And the last one here is fair treatment. So what we might think about by this as being a little bit
different from unfair treatment is we might ask people how fairly do you think
people in housing treat you or how fairly do you think
people in the library treat you. So we might look at specific populations of people that work at
the university and ask how fairly do you think you’re treated by these different populations. One recent study found several themes in terms of campus racial climiate, so I’m going to show a
couple of slides here that give some themes about racial climate for different groups. So the first one here is racial climate. I’ve highlighted — or I’ve bolded a couple things here that I think are particularly relevant to what I’m going to
be talking about today and that includes that when we’re talking about
campus racial climate a study in 2007 found that cross race — there was a cross-race consensus by both people of color and white people that institutions don’t generally foster meaningful interactions around — around diversity and multiculturalism so students felt that there was little support from the institution in engaging in meaningful
conversations across race and particularly about difficult issues like privilege and oppression. And if you think about it, we have particularly
for students coming here who may be coming from places within the state
or within the country that have had very little diversity that they’ve been exposed to and to expect them to come into a place that is more diverse
and know how to do that is potentially problematic, so we need to as institutions give them some of their
resources and skills to be able to have those interactions. Along the same lines of race remains largely untalked about, that’s another theme, and when they ask these
people in this study to talk about campus racial climate a lot of them said you’re the first person
to ask me about this. So a lot of institutions
don’t even talk about what the racial climate is like. In terms of the campus
climate for LGBT people there was a very large scale study that was published in 2010 that looked at over 5000
students, faculty and staff from across the country and asked them about campus racial climate for LGBT individuals. What they found was that lesbian, gay, and bisexual people were more likely than heterosexual people to report harassment or discrimination that transgender and gender
non-conforming individuals were more likely than
cisgender women and men to report harassment and discrimination. And then not surprisingly, LGBQ and transgender, and gender non-conforming
individuals reported that the campus climate was more negative than their heterosexual
and cisgender counterparts and it’s important to note, in all of these campus
climate literatures, even though I’m breaking them down by race and sexual orientation that there is inter-sectionality in play and so LGB and trans people of color reported even worse
perceptions of campus climate than white and LGB and trans people. In terms of campus climate for women a qualitative study in 2010 of over 14,000 people
at a single institution found that women reported
institutional sexism, things including inequities in pay, feeling like there are unsafe climates in places like fraternities
or other places on or near campus. Feeling like there are comments made that are unsupportive of women in particular mothers
or parenting as well. They also found that women
tended to want to have deeper conversations about diversity and diversity-related programming
on university campuses where the men tended to focus — feel that the focus on diversity was either sufficient
or even maybe too much. So we have some evidence for a little bit of gender difference and perceptions of that. They also found that some men expressed hostility
about diversity efforts or a feeling that this
particular university had a liberal bias. So these are some of the
things to be thinking about as we’re trying to address
our campus climate. So to pull out some themes
from all of these different areas of literature on campus climate Harper and Hurtado who were
specifically talking about racial campus climate, but I think that these
things that they pull out are relevant to any sort of campus climate that we’re referring to. Perceptions of campus climate differ based on whether people are members of the privileged or dominant groups versus whether they’re members of the oppressed or marginalized groups. Students of color or people
in the marginalized groups report experiences of oppression and oppressive campus climates and then I think the thing
that’s the most relevant to what I’m going to talk about today is that there are benefits
to campus climates that support cross race or
just cross group interactions, so this is one of the things that the campus climate
literature finds as a theme. There are some benefits
to fostering interactions between groups of people. I said I would mention some
of the contributing factors to campus climate and I’m going to largely focus on inter-group relations, but I think that there
are a few things that myself and some of my colleagues study that are important to kind of acknowledge. The first being minority stress. so there’s a theory called
minority stress theory that states that minority stress is excess stress to which individuals from stigmatized social categories are exposed to as a
result of their social, often minority position. So like any other form of stress than an individual might experience it has the potential to
contribute to negative physical and mental health outcomes. There are several processes
involved in minority stress and those include external
objective events and conditions so things like maybe external and explicit forms of racism or sexism or classes, and expectations of such events, so if you have had a history
of experiencing oppression and then you’ve had the
expectation that’s going to happen that’s another form of stress that you carry around with you that someone who doesn’t expect
to have those experiences does not have. And then internalization of
negative societal attitudes, so some of the research that I do with my graduate students is around internalized heterosexism, so the ways in which LGB people take the messages that they’ve
been socialized about — about sexual orientation, specifically sexual minorities and turn them inward and direct those negative
messages at themselves because they’ve been getting
them all their lives. So these are different processes that — that occur as minority
stresses happening to people. As I mentioned, like other forms of stress it will wear over — wear at our body and wear at our emotions and wear at our psychological
well being over time. And then even broader than — or even more specific than minority stress in the general sense we can look at specific
forms of oppression, so we could say that oppression
can be overt or covert so things that are
obvious and in the open, they can happen at individual levels, so potentially calling someone a slur based on a social identity category. It can happen at the cultural level, so exclusion or
misrepresentation in the media. It can happen on an institutional level, so for example LGBT people
not having federal protections from being fired at the federal level in the private sector. Beyond these overt forms of oppression there’s also within psychology a lot of people who study
now micro-aggression, so these are things that are
more covert, more subtle, and Darawyn Su who does a lot
of work on micro-aggression calls them the every
day verbal, non-verbal, and environmental
slights, snubs, or insults whether intentional or unintentional that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely on their
marginalized group membership. So for example we might say that a person who says I’m colorblind, a white person who says I’m colorblind to a person of color, is invalidating that person’s experience as a person of color, so we could say that that is an invalidating form of micro-aggression. We could also say someone who — potentially on our campus we might hear a student
who is heterosexual say that something is gay, when they really mean it’s weird or bad, so that’s another sort of invalidating form of micro-aggression. So these are just things
to be keeping in mind that these are the sorts of processes that are happening on our campus and we have different forms of oppression at different level, and they’re overt and covert, and so we need to develop
some awareness around these as we start to engage with one another around issues related to
diversity and social justice. And there’s the examples
I just talked about. So I think that what we really need to do is develop a critical awareness that these things are happening and that we exist in this structure that allows these forms
of oppression to exist and we need to be able to — by critical I mean be able to become aware of these things that often
happen unconsciously, so that we can challenge them and try to change the systems
that we’re existing in. Specifically I think that we need to be proactive about this. There was a psychologist named Nancy Betts who talked about a null
environment hypothesis, so this is a hypothesis that — an environment that neither encourages or discourages individuals. It simply ignores them. It is a null environment and that’s inherently oppressive. And so if we think about for example, Nancy Betts gives some examples with her own career development as a woman who becomes a
psychologist and a scientist, if a young woman gets
messages throughout her life that women are going to
be bad at math and science and then she gets to college, if the university’s environment is not doing anything to help foster her sense of self-efficacy and help her to thrive, the null environment hypothesis says that if you’re doing nothing that actually is perpetuating the system of oppression of
women from [unintelligible]. So we need to work to counteract these messages of
socialization that we get about how to be different
social identities and one of the ways that I’m
going to talk about doing that is through our inter-group dialogue stuff that we do at the University
of Tennessee in Knoxville. We need to help people to think about where do I fit in to these
systems of oppression? How might I be perpetuating some of these oppressive systems? In developing this sort of knowledge I’m arguing as does Paulo Freire in Pedagogy of the Oppressed, can be actually liberating. That if we realize that we’re parts of these oppressive systems rather than inherently bad or pathological this can be a liberating
act in depathologizing. So we need interventions that will, as a counseling psychologist, I would say we need to
focus on people’s strengths. So a lot of the things I’ve talked about are negative things that happen, but the majority of
students on our campus, faculty, staff, people in
our communities thrive, and so we need to focus on helping to build those
strengths that they have so things like — there’s a concept that has
gained some recent attention, psychology called bicultural competence, so the idea that someone who is a member of a non-dominant cultural group who is able to both survive and thrive in the mainstream dominant culture as well as their own
kind of heritage culture and there’s new research that shows that that can be a protective factor against negative mental health outcomes when people are faced with oppression. There’s also a concept
called crisis competence that’s been talked about with lesbian, gay, and bisexual people, particularly older adults and this is the idea that over a lifespan of facing oppression people develop resilience and so in this example in particular when you’re an older adult and you start facing
discrimination based on age you already have some
resources that you’ve developed and strengths, that can help you cope with it, so that’s the idea of crisis competence that a lifetime of managing stigma helps you to develop some resources. We also need to figure out how to build relationships across groups and prepare students with the skills to be able to productively
interact with each other, even through conflict. I’ve mentioned this already also, just developing a critical
consciousness about the social systems that
we are all part of. And developing capacities and commitments to work individually and together towards social justice. These ones that are in bold here are most relevant to the
inter-group dialogue work that I’m going to do. As a counseling psychologist, as I said, I do want to talk about the — or I did want to mention at least the focusing on some of the strengths and resiliency that the individuals have. So specifically if we’re trying to build relationships across groups and prepare students with skills to communicate productively
through conflict actually I think that
this can apply to anyone, even within our department of psychology we do some of this dialogue work increasingly so, in order to make sure that
we have the skills ourselves to communicate through conflict. There’s a famous hypothesis called the contact hypothesis
in social psychology that basically says that
inter-group contact, if we can bring together people from across different
social identify groups, under certain conditions it can help to reduce prejudice. So specifically [unintelligible] said we have to have equal status within the contact situation, common goals, inter-dependence to meet those goals, and the support of some
law or authority or custom. In the 90s, Pettigrew
as a social psychologist added another condition which
is friendship potential, so these are the
conditions in which we can create optimal inter-group
contact to reduce prejudice. A huge body of literature at this point supports this hypothesis. So there has been a
couple of meta-analyses, so studies of studies, in the past couple of years that have shown with samples
of 500 or 700 different studies that the contact hypothesis does hold true and interestingly it generalizes too members of an entire out group, so if we were going to have
inter-group contact with — if we created a dialogue with
people of different races, the effects of that inter-group contact would generalize to not just the exact people in that group, but to the larger out-group
even outside that group. And sometimes even those effects can generalize to people from other out groups as well. One of the things that they hypothesize mediates or facilitates that effective inter-group contact is the development of affect or emotion, so inter-group contact can help us to develop empathy for other people and it can also help us to reduce anxiety about interacting with people
who are different from us. One specific way that we can
create inter-group contact is through dialogue and what dialogue is, is a form of communication. It’s different from kind of conventional discussion or debate in which the object is often to win or to show someone that you are right. In dialogue rather, the goal is to develop
some shared meaning. So this doesn’t mean that we have to agree about what we’re talking about, but that I understand
you from your perspective and you understand me from my perspective, even if we don’t agree. So we can develop some new
shared meaning of each other. It’s important to note, and I am a counseling psychologist who studies group psychotherapy, but this is non-psychotherapy, there is an author who does
a lot of writing on dialogue who calls it sociotherapy because the goal is not to bring about individual personality change, although sometimes that does happen, but it’s to bring about change on a larger societal level. So in practice what this looks like is might engage with people and say help me to understand that or tell me more about that or ask clarifying questions
about what people are asking. Inquire how the person
arrived at that perspective. Listen more than we’re talking. Check for understanding. So saying things like what I hear is this and doing a restatement. Asking open-ended questions. Asking what or how and not why, and these actually — if you have ever taken — or ever taken in your life a basic counseling skills class a lot of these are actually
basic counseling skills, so using open-ended questions rather than closed questions keeps the dialogue moving rather than you say no, I ask you another question, you say no, so we try to ask open-ended questions. We tend to stay away
from using why questions because they can sound judgmental, so why did you do that? versus like how did you come
to that decision or something. I guess I didn’t include it on here but there’s a specific method of dialogue called the LARA technique, which is L-A-R-A, which stands for listen, affirm, respond,
and add information and this is one that is used a lot at the University of Michigan and their program on inter-group relations where you listen to what
someone has said to you, you affirm which doesn’t
mean necessarily agree, but you find a point of connection, so even if you disagree
very strongly with someone that point of connection might be I can see that we both feel
very strongly about this. Then you respond to their
question or their comment and then you might add some information, so here’s my response and this is why I feel that way or maybe we need to get a
little bit more information to continue to have this dialogue. The second thing that I
think that we need to do that dialogue can help us do is to develop a critical
consciousness about social issues. This draws on critical
multi-cultural education in which the word critical implies a conscientious effort to examine how individual and group life are meaningfully connected to group identity and how those identities exist within structures of stratification that afford members of different groups privileges and disadvantages resulting in continued
group based inequalities. So critical in this sense doesn’t mean we’re critical of each other or we’re — it’s not intended to be a negative thing, but we’re being critical
of social systems. Critical multicultural education moves students beyond mere
appreciation of diversity and holds central the analysis
of social inequalities and the role members of both privileged and disadvantaged groups can take in creating change. So we want people who engage in dialogue to kind of critically look at the systems that they’re a part of, seeing how they’re perpetuating them and also how they might
stop perpetuating them. And what this involves
is becoming aware of overt and covert forms of
oppression at multiple levels as I mentioned a few slides ago. The last goal here is to develop capacities and commitments to work individually and together towards social justice. So I say here not just
diversity, social justice and I think that some
of our speakers today have already talked about social justice and I know that Dr. Black’s
university’s commitment was really along the
lines of a lot of things I’m going to talk about
here with social justice. But it’s more than celebrating
diversity or multiculturalism it’s really about the
equitable distribution of resources and risks that all individuals are
physically and psychologically safe and secure. That all individuals are self-determining and inter-dependent, feeling both a sense of personal agency and responsibility to one another. That there’s full and equal participation of all members of society, regardless of ability status, age, ethnicity, gender, gender identify, race, religion, sexual orientation, social class or veteran status. And what this necessitates really is that we look at systemic
and institutional levels rather than just at the
level of the individual. So I have an example here of as a therapist, if I had a client that came in to see me at the university counseling center, this woman here who is a black woman, who may present with
depression or anxiety, or one of the common presenting concerns you might see in a counseling center, it would be important to assess what things are like for
her in the classroom, so does she see representations
of herself in the curricula, is she treated fairly and
justly and appropriately by teachers and fellow students. What is her life like
outside of the classroom, so this is a picture of
the strip in Knoxville. I am actually facilitating right now and inter-group dialogue
on sexual orientation and we had this interesting
discussion about — the other day about where
people feel safe on campus and someone said I don’t feel
safe anywhere on the strip and so I had that in mind
when I put this on here that I think that different
members of our community feel more or less safe in different places and then just kind of generally looking at experiences of racism
or oppression or sexism that this person might be experiencing, so if this person came in and was presenting with anxiety or depression and I just work with her
individually in the room and ask her about herself, I think I’d be missing all
of those contextual factors that might be contributing and understandable responsive
depression or anxiety. So I’m going to get to
talking more specifically about inter-group dialogue
and what this looks like. So the model of inter-group dialogue that I use at the University
of Tennessee in Knoxville I also used at the University of Illinois when I was an intern there, and at the University of Maryland is where I first learned about it and it originally comes from
the University of Michigan. It was developed in the mid 80s in response to racial
tension on that campus. Since then it has really become kind of the go-to standard
for inter-group dialogue and higher education. What this does is that it brings together individuals from social identity groups that have had a history of
tension or conflict between them so for example we might bring together people of color and white people or LGBT and heterosexual people or women and men, so it’s a lot of different combinations. At our university we also do inter-group dialogues that
are around social class. We bring people from varying
social classes together and religion and spirituality. Some of the design elements of inter-group dialogue that are important are that it creates opportunities for sustained communication across group and across differences. So this is where I mentioned earlier that we can have structural diversity at our university or college and not be making full use of that if we don’t have opportunities for sustained and meaningful interactions and inter-group dialogue
is one way to create that. It also adds an affective component to cognitive learning. So earlier I mentioned that one of the mechanisms
through which we think inter-group contact is effective is that it helps us to develop
empathy for other people it helps us to reduce anxiety when we’re in inter-group
contact situations. And inter-group dialogue allows us the opportunity to have that
sort of affective component rather than just having
someone lecture at you. The last design element is that it balances process and content. And so I mentioned here
the idea of the group as a social microcosm. Someone mentioned earlier today that we can think of our universities as being a social microcosm in which whatever happens at the university is reflective of the large society and this is even on a smaller scale. We might say that what happens in a smaller group of individuals interacting would be also reflective
of the social system. So the critical dialogic
model that comes from Michigan has four different stages and the first stage is coming together, forming relationships, then dialoging about
commonalities and differences which includes dialoging about experiences with privilege and oppression, then dialoging about hot topics. So this might be for example
in sexual orientation dialogue, dialoging about same sex marriage. Oftentimes I think in
social class dialogues people want to talk about
different forms of welfare or food stamps. They’re hot topics that
involve inter-group relations that we don’t often talk about in inter-group settings and actually get into some of the conflictual stuff that’s there. And then the last stage
is alliance building and action planning. In psychology there’s a
model of group development that is forming, storming,
norming, performing, so it kind of goes
through different phases of coming together and
building relationships and figuring out how
you’re going to do this and this mirrors that as well, so we come together and we don’t jump right in to say okay today we’re here
to talk about privilege but we spend a couple of
weeks developing relationships and talking about what dialogue is and how we’re going to do this to kind of set the ground work for getting to those more difficult parts of the dialogue later
on and those hot topics. The idea here also is that we’re not trying to avoid conflict and you’ll remember
that I said the idea is also not to come to agreement, so we want to really talk about these sort of conflictual hot topics and privilege and oppression in ways that we don’t often do and really not avoid the
conflict that’s a part of it but work through it. So that’s kind of the
model that we have here. There’s two shifts that
happen over a period of weeks so at our university we do
these dialogues over eight weeks and the shift that happens is from kind of lower risk to higher risk, so as we build relationships and feel more comfortable with each other then we start talking about
privilege and oppression and then we start talking about the societal level hot topics. The other thing that happens is that there is a shift in focus from the individual to a focus
on institutions and systems so when we start out we’re doing things looking at socialization and I’ve got some examples, I’m going to share what that looks like, and then we get into
these hot topic issues which are more systemic. There’s a growing body of research on the inter-group dialogue as well that shows positive outcomes and so things like affective positivity, so positive affect when you’re
interacting with others, cognitive involvement and this is where we get into things like
analytical thinking about society and critical thinking. Development of inter-group empathy. Development of inter-group
collaboration and action. Reduced stereotypes. Perspective taking. And so there’s a wide variety of positive outcomes that we see from this and I’m going to share with you some data from the dialogues that we’re running that also show some positive outcomes that are a little bit different. So at UTK, since 2012, we facilitated 24 different
inter-group dialogues as part of the multicultural
psychology class that I teach. The topics have been
religion, social class, race and ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, if you’re curious about exactly how we develop these groups, I can give you more information, kind of back channel, but — out of these 24 groups, we’ve had 202 undergraduate
students who participated and these groups have been facilitated by 34 different graduate students who take an advanced group class with me. The undergraduate multicultural
class that I teach the objectives of it are all around building multicultural competency which in psychology we view as developing knowledge skills and awareness. I view the part of the class that has the textbook and has the tests and has the lectures as really facilitating some
of the content knowledge, but also we take some of the values from Pedagogy of the Oppressed that the students are coming
with some valuable knowledge that I don’t have as someone with my own particular social identities. So we value the knowledge
that they’re bringing as well. Skills — so we develop a skill set in how to dialogue with each other and then attitudes or awareness. A lot of what we do — especially in the early stages of dialogue is to help people develop
some self-awareness around their own socialization, their own social identities
and what that means. In the graduate course, it’s an advanced group methods course, so all of these students have taken an introductory class in group counseling or some sort of group methods class, but this class is focused on also developing their
multicultural competence but specifically as it applies to doing group work in psychology. So our class meets on
Tuesday and Thursdays across the entire semester. For the first eight weeks or so, or maybe seven, we meet all together — the undergraduates all meet together, so about 40 to 60 students, depending on the semester, on Tuesday and Thursday, and then starting halfway
through the semester they meet in one of these
inter-group dialogue groups, but we still meet on Tuesday all together. As I mentioned before, the goals of these inter-group dialogues are developing cross group relationships, skills and inter-group communication, developing critical consciousness, and developing a commitment
to social justice. A typical session outline, I’m going to give you just an
idea of some specific things that we might do in a session. So this one here is — we use an outline, a very general sort of outline that is written by people from
the University of Michigan but then we kind of fill in
some of our own activities, but we do an introduction and a check in, so for example we might say share what you’ve been reflecting on since your last session. Then we would use some kind of
common language or organizers so one of the earliest sessions I have the students read Bobbie
Harro’s Cycle of Socialization which introduces them to the idea of what socialization means. If you haven’t seen it and this is probably very hard to read, it shows we’re kind of born as more — Can you read it? No? If you’re interested I
can share it with you. But it shows that you’re born and you don’t have an idea of what social identities mean until you start to get influence from your parents and your
religious organization, and the media and your
peers and your school, and so as you’re a part of this you start to understand
how society categorizes you and what it means to be a boy or a girl or whatever sort of social identity. So that would be our conceptual organizer. We talk about socialization and they would’ve read
something like that. And then we do an activity where — where we have them do a family tree. So we’ll sit in class and we’ll say we want you to draw your family tree. They can be as creative
as they want to be. Some of them get very creative and some of them are less creative. But what we want them to do is for each person that they include, and it can be as many people as they want, however they consider their family, we want them to include the messages that they
learned from that person either implicitly or explicitly about gender for example. Sort of the gender dialogue. So if I’ve done this in my — with my family tree, and I’m doing a gender dialogue, I might put I learned
from my dad that like men drive the car and men do the yard work and I learned from my mom
that women go shopping and do the shopping. And those aren’t things
that my parents ever told me but that’s what I picked up on from them in observing their behavior as a child. So we go through this
family tree sort of activity and we do some processing. Then we do a collective
reflection in dialogue on the learning activity, so students share what
they’ve thought about. And we look at commonalities
and differences of experience and then we start thinking about so what does this all mean. These are the messages that we receive from very important people in our lives about how we do gender. So what does this mean? And we try to put it in a larger context. And then finally we
dialogue about the dialogue. So we’ll do kind of
collector of reflection on the learning from the entire session. We might talk about how
we’re doing as a group, how the dialogue is going. And then we’ll do just kind of a checkout and looking forward
toward the next session. The other activity that I’m
going to mention quickly is what our students have come to know is the jelly bean activity. I’m guessing that many people in here have done things like a privilege walk where you read a list of privileges and you take a step forward
if you have that privilege so you can get kind of a differential view of privilege in the room. Because of a lack of space some of my creative grad students decided to do this jelly bean activity where they got clear plastic cups and a big bowl of jelly beans and every student has
a cup in front of them and they read the list of privileges and if the privilege applies to you, you take a jelly bean from the bowl and you put it in your cup. And then you can kind of see some people’s cups
filling up and others not and I have been very surprised at how strong the reactions get and I have students write critical reflections after each session and I’ve had people write about things like not wanting
to take the jelly bean and hear the sound of it drop in their cup because it makes them feel so — they get such a visceral reaction to it. So that’s another example of an activity that we do. And we would do that with
our conceptual organizer for this might be reading Peggy McIntosh’s White Privilege, Unpacking
the Invisible Knapsack, so to give them an idea
of what privilege means and what that looks like, and then we would do this activity. So is this working? We’re doing these dialogue groups at UT. I finally have enough data to do pre- and post dialogue studies and one of my graduate
students defended his thesis and these are some of
the results that he got and we have submitted
this and we’re revising it hopefully to get it published. We have found significant positive changes and I mean positive in the good sense, not a correlation. We’ve found significant positive changes in empathic perspective taking. So from pre- to post our students show increases in their ability
to take the perspective of people from other groups and we’ve also found decreases in — or increases in awareness
of racial privilege and institutional discrimination. So we give a measure of
colorblind racial attitudes and we see that after participating
in these dialogue groups they have a greater awareness of privilege and of institutional discrimination. The things that we
haven’t found changes in are things that are more I think basic attitudes toward diversity, so we give them a
universality diversity scale which is having this attitude that you can value both similarity and difference and we’ve also given them an openness to diversity scale and we don’t find
significant changes in that. I interpret this, and obviously I am bias in this, but I interpret this as being positive because I think that some of
the more critical outcomes like this awareness of
institutional discrimination and awareness of privilege are — that’s what we’re seeing changes in and that’s part of our goal is to develop this critical consciousness and we probably have a selection bias that these students have chosen to take a multicultural psychology class so maybe they’re already open to diversity by the time they come into the class. We also find increases in — we’ll give them measures
after each session to look at things like
the climate of the group, the types of affects they
were feeling during the group, their perceptions of
how deep the session was or how smooth or rough it was. We find increases in engagement over time and engagement — the way that we measure this, we use a measure that’s actually
from group psychotherapy is really looking at the extent to which they find the group important. They think that what is
happening is meaningful. They like and care about each other. So those are the types
of questions that we ask and over time that goes up. We also find decreases in avoidance, so avoiding of interpersonal problems. They say that they are actually avoiding each other less over time and we don’t find changes in conflict, so we look at interpersonal conflict and that tends to stay pretty steady. And if you’ll recall I said
earlier that in dialogue we’re not trying to avoid conflict. I actually think that if
we’re having a dialogue on something like race that is a contentious
issue in the United States and has been and will be for a long time and there’s not any level of conflict, you’re probably not really
talking about it very deeply. So we don’t actually see
changes in the level of conflict but we still see people
becoming more engaged and avoiding less over time. In terms of affect, so at the same time while
people are becoming more engaged and avoiding less, we see that there’s — on the left there I’ve got a graph of negative affect over time, so you can see negative
affect actually goes up and positive affect goes down. So even though they’re
feeling more negative things happening, they’re still becoming engaged in it, and they’re still really
engaging in actual interpersonal and inter-group
issues with each other. We also see that over time they think the tops ones are the same with affect but the bottom have
ratings of session depth and session smoothness, so over time they think
that they’re getting deeper into what they’re talking about and that it’s less smooth, so the questions that we ask them are was the session comfortable. We have them rate on a scale from uncomfortable to comfortable or rough to smooth. Over time they think it’s getting rougher. But they think it’s getting deeper and they’re more engaged in it. So I have qualitative data that I actually think is probably maybe a little bit more — maybe a little bit more interesting or easier to grasp for this, but after each session I ask students both the group members and the leaders to write about what was
the most important thing that happened in this session, and why was it important to you. So at this point, I’ve had eight sessions
times 202 group members and so we have a lot of these data now to start looking at. But I think in terms of the — the goals that we have for the groups we see evidence of building
inter-group communication skills so one group member said the members of my group — the members of my group dialogue started off being reserved and gave little personal information. As the session progressed we became more comfortable
around each other and began to share personal opinions. I believe that the leaders
of the group dialogue played a huge role in making us feel comfortable and safe to open up. We played an icebreaker
and set ground rules that must be enforced during
all dialogue sessions. The establishment of ground rules was the most important part of last week’s inter-group dialogue. Some of our rules included respecting others beliefs, think before you react, do not attack another member, and ask questions if you do not understand someone’s perspective. The ground rules made everyone feel free to express their beliefs without being judged or ridiculed. The ground rules were important for me because I sometimes feel insecure speaking my perspectives in a large class. I know that there are
extremely opinionated individuals in our class and I do not want to be
attacked in front of everyone. I already feel comfortable and relaxed in my dialogue group and I know I will be able to actively participate in our discussions because of the environment
we have already established. I’m going to skip over that one for now. We have some evidence of
developing critical consciousness so things like the most important thing
that happened for me was the cultural chest activity, so one of the first things we do is have people bring in items that represent to
their culture to them and then share them with the group. Each member of my group had
to bring in three objects that represented their
race and/or ethnicity. We were instructed to decorate the outside with words or pictures
that described how we felt, that the other people saw us. Through sharing our cultural chest we got to learn more
about each others group. It was interesting to see the objects group members had brought and why they were significant
to their identity. I really enjoyed this activity because it forced me to
think deeply about myself. I feel that I’ve never actually sat down and thought about what defines me and what aspects of my life display my race and ethnicity because it seems like my
race and ethnicity are innate and I’m just myself. After the activity I look at people and myself differently. We all have family histories and certain things that are
unique to our backgrounds. These qualities that — these qualities are what make us diverse and you can’t tell a
person’s race and ethnicity just by looking at them alone. So I won’t continue with that, because I’m aware of the time, and I want to leave a couple
minutes for questions. But when we do post these, I’ve got a few other examples that I think are pretty great to read some of the things that the
students were experiencing in some of these groups. So when we post these, you’ll be able to read them more if you’re interested. There are also some
students that talk about developing a commitment to social justice and what I like about those is they say I didn’t think about
these things at all before and now everywhere I go it’s all I can see is oppression. I mean like that’s not a great thing that that is what they see, but they’re seeing it, so it is. So conclusions and moving forward, I think that the inter-group dialogue has been a meaningful
way for us to create some cross-group interactions at the University of Tennessee Knoxville and I hope that we can
find ways to continue to develop and grow that capacity for us. Thanks. (audience applause)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *