Bentley University

Bentley Brave Dialog Groups

Challenge

Encourage the creation of “brave spaces” – facilitated opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to engage in courageous conversations about social identity. The Bentley Brave campus-wide initiative was launched in 2016 focused on providing spaces for and building capacity of community members to engage in open, honest, and direct conversations about social identity, which are a crucial catalyst for our cognitive, interpersonal, and intrapersonal development. The initiative includes dialog groups for students, faculty and staff, all-campus events and programs, and conversation spaces following community reads and film presentations. More than 600 members of the Bentley community participated in a Bentley Brave event during the first year.

Actions

The Bentley Brave Dialog Groups were created to increase the comfort and ability of faculty and staff to engage in difficult conversations about social identity through a facilitated semester-long dialog experience. Designed as a professional development program focused on diversity, the curriculum allows participants to develop six essential skills necessary for effective dialog through the exploration of three core concepts related to diversity and inclusion. Sessions were structured so group members could identify and reflect on the cognitive, emotional, and physical aspects of engaging in dialog. These skills and concepts provided the foundation for participants to develop a practice of dialog that was reinforced during each meeting. 

Outcomes

Nine members of the Bentley faculty and staff joined the initial group and participated in five sessions. Data collected from participants at the beginning and conclusion of the group revealed a 100% increase in the number of participants who felt comfortable engaging in conversations about difference at Bentley (44% - 88%), and equally significant increases in their level of proficiency with the essential skills as well as their level of understanding of the three diversity concepts. Two new groups will be launched in the fall of 2017.

Contact

Katherine Lampley: [email protected]

Bentley has a history to be proud of—100 years and counting, in fact. Throughout that time, we have had a notable, longstanding commitment to ethics, inclusion and opportunity for students, faculty and staff from all backgrounds. Bentley has sought to create an educational community that connects young men and women with world-class faculty and staff, working in tandem to prepare for a world that needs bridge-builders, problem-solvers and civic-leaders. A critical aspect of participating in this community is recognizing that our view of the world may be different than that of those with whom we live, learn, and work. Through Bentley Brave, the Center for Women and Business Women’s Leadership Program, and the Bentley Men of Alliance, we believe our entire community will continue to better see, share and understand each other’s differences. Examining our own identities and learning about the experiences of others may require engaging in environments and situations that do not always feel comfortable. But that is what being brave is all about, and I’m proud of what Bentley does every day to advance these ideals.

Gloria Larson, President, Bentley University

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