Dialogue Across Difference

About the Initiative

Freedom of expression thrives within a culture of civility and empathy. Dialogue Across Difference (DxD), part of the Values in Action initiative, is designed to foster a resilient and inclusive community of learners among students, faculty, and staff and to engage with diverse perspectives and navigate challenging conversations with a shared commitment to mutual understanding and respect.

Featured Programming

Awakening Our Democracy (AOD) is Columbia's conversation series on disparities and justice issues at the forefront of the University's and the nation's consciousness. These events foster University-wide dialogue through discussions with thought leaders, advocates, journalists and scholars. On February 15, University Life and the Journalism School hosted a signature AOD event on polarization, its causes, and possible solutions.

On February 16, Columbia Climate School brought together a panel of experts from architecture, anthropology, political science, and engineering to consider past, present, and future drivers of climate migration. It will explore why the impacts associated with displacement differ across geographies and identities, as well as how we might understand the role of migration in broader efforts to adapt to climate change.

On February 20, Columbia Engineering and the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia co-hosted a symposium with panels of multidisciplinary experts to debate artificial intelligence and its impact on the future of public discourse, free expression, and democracy.


Learning Opportunities

We are dedicated to enhancing faculty skills for managing differing viewpoints on sensitive subjects, especially during times of crisis. The Office for the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement and the Center for Teaching and Learning hosted faculty professional development workshops on:

Having Difficult Conversations

Friday, January 26, 2024, 12:30-2pm | 203 Butler Library

Dr. Beth Fisher-Yoshida, program director of the Negotiation and Conflict Resolution program in the School of Professional Studies, led a faculty workshop where faculty gained tools to navigate conflict, especially in times of crisis, as well as broader campus climate dynamics.

Employing Empathetic Objectivity in the Classroom

Thursday, February 22, 2024, 12:30-2pm | 203 Butler Library

Professors Ari Goldman and Gregory Khalil, who co-teach a course on religion in Israel/Palestine at the Graduate School of Journalism, shared how they (sometimes) successfully navigate differences in and out of the classroom.

AI Training for Facilitating Challenging Classroom Conversations

Wednesday, March 6, 2024, 12:30-2pm | Virtual Event

Professors Paul Ingram and Hitendra Wadhwa led a workshop on techniques for navigating complex classroom conversations and will introduce a custom-built AI-based coaching tool for advice and for deploying the techniques.

Other faculty resources include the CTL’s workshops, “Teaching in Times of Stress” and “Navigating Heated, Offensive, and Tense Moments in the Classroom.”

University Life continues leading sessions to foster dialogue across differences among students through the Campus Conversations Initiative

Campus Conversations is a dialogue-based initiative created to promote understanding across differences. It offers students, undergraduate and graduate, a way to learn critical listening skills, manage difficult conversations, and talk about identity. Join a Campus Conversation and you will make a friend, have a real conversation and build community at Columbia.

Partnering with the Consensus Building Institute, a leading organization in facilitation, capacity building, and citizen engagement, we offered skills training to student affairs and DEI staff in navigating differences, de-escalation techniques, as well as specifically addressing the impact of the conflict in Israel and Gaza on our campus. 

The Institute led a series of sessions for a cohort of student-facing staff titled, “Navigating Differences around Polarizing Topics.” These sessions began preparing chief student affairs officers and senior diversity officers to lead programs, support students, and guide their staff during times of conflict. 

Seed Grants

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Faculty Seed Grants

A new RFP will launch in Fall 2024.

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Student Seed Grants

The Student Seed Grant submission deadline has passed.

Meet the Inaugural Faculty Grant Recipients

Seed grant funding aims to promote conversations where faculty, staff, and students can confront difference and find mutual understanding. Learn more about the Spring 2024 awarded projects.

News and Announcements