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Community Conversations

Communication is a key social work skill. Sometimes written communication is great, while other times, verbal communication is more effective.

At the SSW, anyone can call us together for a Community Conversation - about any topic impacting students that they think lends itself best to verbal communication. We take these conversations seriously, so thought has been given to the format and process.

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The Format

While we are remote, Community Conversations may happen in person or via zoom. To promote conversation, participation will be limited to 50 people. If that isn't enough - we will host another one!

The Model

SSW Community Conversations are guided by principles and practices of intergroup dialogue and restorative justice. For that reason, we use a set format for the conversations. The model for our Community Conversations was a co-creation of faculty and students

The Process

We will start with a welcome and opening, including an introduction of the topic and a summary of our Invitations for Engagement (below). Space will then be open for discussion. Each Community Conversation end with a closing.

Invitations for Engagement

Invitations for engagement will serve as the basis for our "group guidelines." These guidelines were adapted from The Program for Intergroup Relations. Based on the topic, these invitations can be modified or adapted.

  1. Be present and engaged. In order for people to share vulnerably and bravely, we must feel that we are all invested in the conversation. It is important that we commit to being present, staying engaged, and avoiding the use of electronic devices or checking out in other visible ways.
  2. Listen to learn, not to respond. We invite people to listen generously with the intent to understand rather than to interject. We should listen even harder when someone is saying something about which we disagree to try to understand the perspective being shared.
  3. Be aware of intent and impact. We often refer to the difference between intent and impact. No matter how good our intentions might be, if our impact was hurtful, then we probably need to apologize.
  4. Anticipate unfinished business and disagreement. We will probably not resolve all issues in a single discussion - and as a diverse community, we are unlikely to find uniform agreement. We invite people to see these discussion circles as a first step, and as an invitation to further discussion, engagement, and relationship building.
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