Congratulations 2020-2021 ICD Fellows!

 

Congratulations to all of our 2020-2021 ICD Fellowship Teams. Read more about their projects and an update about their semester linked below.

The ICD Fellowship Program is a University-wide partnership, with participation from academic, service, outreach and administrative units. Fellowship teams engage in year-long, shared-learning process, develop projects that apply dialogue and deliberation to specific content areas and curricular settings, and make use of, and potentially contribute to, current research-in-practice.

Application deadline for the 2021-2022 Democracy and Dialogues Fellowship is May 24, 2021. To apply, please visit: https://democracyanddialogues.dodd.uconn.edu/?p=1401


Vamos! A multidisciplinary dialogue series about intersectional Latinx experiences at UConn

Teams - Pauline Batista Teams - Claudio Daflon Teams - Lauren Perez Bonilla

Team Members:

Pauline Batista, AACC Program Specialist/ Ph.D. Student at the Neag School of Education (Educational Leadership)
Favela da Maré/ Paraty/ Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Claudio Daflon, Ph.D. Student at UConn’s History Department (Latin American History)
Macaé/ Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Lauren Perez-Bonilla, Ph.D. Student at UConn’s Geography Department (Latin American History)
Santo Domingo, República Dominicana

Executive Summary:

In this project, we present a structured opportunity for dialogue across intersectional themes within Latinx identities. That is exactly why we chose to title this initiative “Vamos!” (or “Let’s Go!” both in Spanish and Portuguese). This initiative is a call to gather UConn’s growing Latinx population in an effort to provide a space for Afro Latinx, Queer Latinx and other underrepresented Latinx populations to start different conversations around identities and different perspectives. Despite the focus around Latinx identity related issues, all students are welcome to attend meetings. The group will meet biweekly (virtually or at available campus spaces such as Cultural Centers in the Fall). We chose to use Paulo Freire’s (1994) participatory action framework to create dialogue opportunities between the university and local groups in the community. Our team along with partner Latinx graduate students will facilitate meetings, however, all conversations will be student centered, in partnership with various student led organizations on campus. We will also bring a guest artist or speaker from abroad by the end of the semester. 

Read an update Q & A the Vamos! team here!


Student Perceptions of Shakespeare as a Pedagogical Resource

Teams - Reme Bohlin

Team Members:

Réme Bohlin, University of Connecticut

Executive Summary:

The debate about Shakespeare’s relevance in the twenty-first century, indeed the relevance of literary studies in general, is long-standing. However, undergraduate students are often absent from these debates. My project seeks to recruit undergraduate voices in the creation of an online, open-source Shakespeare class that directly addresses these questions. By surveying students, I hope to open up a conversation that, while urgent, has grown stale. Often, conversations about Shakespeare’s relevance begin and end with requirements for the major: should English majors be required to take a Shakespeare class? However, revising major requirements does not adequately address questions of relevance. How can questions of value and relevance be taken up in the (virtual) classroom?

Read an update Q & A with Réme here!


The Voice in the Body: Contemplative Practices to Support Dialogue in Online, Hybrid, and In-person Courses

ICD - Tina Huey ICD - Martina Rosenberg

Team Members:

Tina Huey, Adjunct Faculty, University of Connecticut, and Academic Specialist, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

Martina Rosenberg, Director, Teaching and Learning Assessment, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

Executive Summary:

In online environments the careful attunement to timing, tone, energy, interest level, and interpersonal dynamics that in-person teaching permits is much more challenging for both student and instructor. This impacts engagement and motivation, but also vulnerability, a key disposition in dialogical practice. Because it takes place in a space that is public, but that cannot be “read” through the body, distance learning poses a special challenge in courses that center dialogue. We believe that contemplative practices (CP) support dialogue in in-person classes, and are curious about the pedagogical potential of body-centered and ekphrastic meditation exercises in online courses. Contemplative practices include structured dialogue that links mindfulness and soulfulness (Harrell) of the self with compassion for the other. Our goal is to work with instructors in 6-10 courses, facilitate instructor reflection on the role of contemplative practices in dialogue, solicit feedback from students, and produce a video guide with simple techniques for other instructors.  In a series of follow-up workshops with instructors, we will explore and identify reasons why dialogue is difficult online, from the point of view of both the instructor and the students. In courses with online components, we wish to explore CP to frame both synchronous and asynchronous dialogue. That being said, we wish to define specific activities in collaboration with participating instructors.

Read an update Q & A with Tina and Martina here!


Collaborative Conversation Initiative

ICD - Steve Armstrong Teams - Sally Whipple

Team Members:

Stephen Armstrong, Social Studies Consultant, Connecticut State Department of Education

Sally Whipple, Executive Director, Connecticut Democracy Center at Connecticut’s Old State House

Yesenia Karas: Student, Central Connecticut State University

Megan Villanova, Graduate Student, UConn School of Social Work

Executive Summary:

Our program’s goal is to introduce the Encounters discussion model and make it accessible to Connecticut educators and students using a variation called Collaborative Conversations, which we piloted in 2019. Teachers and students who participated in the pilot valued both the use of shared readings to ground discussion and the practice of uninterrupted listening. Collaborative Conversation’s fundamental structure applies dialogue and deliberation to whatever topic is chosen by participating high schools. The format allows students to learn content and interrogate it through discussion, rather than debate. Our project will provide written information and training designed to help teachers and students engage more fully in the model and its practice, and to replicate it in the future. We plan to create a facilitator handbook outlining the program’s goals and approaches, as well as information that will enable trained participants to replicate the program in the future. Our team will then train a team of teachers and students as classroom facilitators who will conduct on-site Collaborative Conversations sessions in at least six Connecticut high schools. After these sessions are completed, our team will survey all participating facilitators and students, targeting participant experience. We will measure student engagement and understanding. The feedback will be used to inform revisions to the facilitator handbook.


Participatory Budgeting at UConn

ICD - Richard Frieder ICD - Christine Caruso ICD - Elnara Klicheva

Team Members:

Richard Frieder, Hartford Decide$

Christine Caruso, University of Saint Joseph

Nana Amos, Program Manager, Dodd Center

Elnara Klicheva, Program Specialist, Dodd Center

Executive Summary:

Participatory Budgeting (PB) is a democratic, community-driven process in which the members of a community (whether a university, municipality, or other organization or institution) collaborate to decide how to spend a designated part of a budget.  The aim of PB, parts of which have a significant dialogic element to them, is to engage community members in a process of identifying and developing potential projects and then holding a vote to determine which of them will be funded.   PB results in the implementation of important projects and, equally important, also builds the capacity of multiple stakeholders with diverse interests to work together for the greater good of the community.

First used in Brazil in 1989, PB came to the U.S. about ten years ago and is now used in several cities around the country.  More recently, a few universities have started implementing PB.  

PB offers several potential benefits to universities including:

  • PB helps build a sense of community on campus.
  • PB stimulates civic engagement on campus and provides an opportunity to learn about the democratic process.
  • PB provides opportunities for students to learn more about the campus and what’s available – as a result they will better access resources of the university.
  • PB enhances academic learning in subject areas such as economics, political science, and others.

In this project, the team will explore and begin designing a PB initiative at the UConn Hartford campus and perhaps other campuses, building interest and relationships that will foster implementation next year.  The team will also investigate possible collaborations with Hartford’s PB initiative (Hartford Decide$), and with high schools that are interested in PB.


Human Rights Education as a Buffer to Extremism

ICD - Sandra Sirota ICD - Yvonne Vissing ICD - Jane Williams ICD - Quixada Moore-Vissing

Team Members:

Sandra Sirota

Yvonne Vissing

Jane M. Williams

Quixada Moore-Vissing

Executive Summary:

The project, Human Rights Education as a Buffer to Extremism, seeks to promote democracy and human rights through examining best-practice efforts to counter violent extremism and making those resources available to professors and the broader education community. It will do so by a) engaging in dialogues with students and experts in extremism and human rights education that will result in b) developing educational materials, c) offering pedagogical tools, and d) sharing research to assist professors in how to use human rights education (HRE) to buffer the rise of extremist views and actions.  The materials will be made available to professors and other educators for free on the websites of universities and organizations such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), University of Connecticut, Human Rights Educators USA (HRE USA), and the University and College Consortium for Human Rights Education (UCCHRE).  

Read an update Q & A with the fellowship team here!

DDI Intern Spotlight: a Q & A with Aylin Saydam

Aylin Saydam is a third year Political Science major at the University of Connecticut and a 2020-2021 intern at Democracy and Dialogues Initiative. Read more about Aylin and her work this semester below. 

What was the inspiration or motivation for pursuing the internship with Democracy and Dialogues Initiative?

I’m a pre-law student who plans to use my voice to raise awareness about important topics on a regular basis in the future. When I signed up for this program, I expected to gain important skills, and to subsequently use these insights throughout my career on a daily basis.

Tell us a bit about your activities this semester as a DDI Intern. 

During my time as an intern at the Democracy and Dialogues program, I had the privilege of facilitating and moderating many Race and Community Dialogues. Given the enormous diversity on the UConn campus, it is important to have substantive discussions about race and racism. College campuses must react to, interact with, and represent their students’ diversity.

Furthermore, these discussions enabled faculty, staff, and students to talk about race on campus, share their perspectives, and ask questions. They were centered on the challenges of creating a more diverse and welcoming university, as well as specific steps that we as a group, an organization, and individuals could take to address racism and create a more diverse and inclusive campus climate.

As you reflect on your experience as an DDI Fellow this year, what were some of the most significant takeaways? 

It’s important to take the time to give people a voice and a safe space in which to express themselves. Hearing from members of the society is an important step toward future progressive reform.

How do you see dialogue as intersecting with your academic and professional goals?

I am a third-year political science student with aspirations to attend law school in the near future. Since I am studying to be a lawyer, it is important for me to have a thorough understanding of critical issues in the community in order to apply my knowledge in the future. I assume that my experience as an intern at the UConn Democracy and Dialogues Initiative will not only benefit me throughout my academic career, but will also provide me with valuable lessons and skills that I will be able to apply for the rest of my life.

Is there anything you might wish to say to someone who has never participated in a dialogue? 

I invite them to take part in a discussion that they are personally interested in. There are several dialogues to choose from, and we are always exploring new subjects. It is important to participate in these discussions because they promote social change not just on the UConn campus but also in the surrounding community. Those who want to make a difference for the better should attend a dialogue.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Thank you to Brendan Kane, the founding co-director, Erica MacDonald, the graduate assistant, and Megan Villanova and Samara Johnson, the two fellow intern students. It was a pleasure to work with this group over the course of a year. We collaborated on several incredible ventures and made the most of our given circumstances.

ICD Fellowship Project Highlight: a Q & A with Réme Bohlin

Student Perceptions of Shakespeare as a Pedagogical Resource

Project Summary: The debate about Shakespeare’s relevance in the twenty-first century, indeed the relevance of literary studies in general, is long-standing. However, undergraduate students are often absent from these debates. My project seeks to recruit undergraduate voices in the creation of an online, open-source Shakespeare class that directly addresses these questions. By surveying students, I hope to open up a conversation that, while urgent, has grown stale. Often, conversations about Shakespeare’s relevance begin and end with requirements for the major: should English majors be required to take a Shakespeare class? However, revising major requirements does not adequately address questions of relevance. How can questions of value and relevance be taken up in the (virtual) classroom?

What was the inspiration or motivation for the project?

As a graduate instructor, I had received ad hoc instruction on course design for literature classes. When it came time to teach two sections of Introduction to Shakespeare, I borrowed heavily from other instructors, and cobbled together a syllabus. I did not have a sense of what I wanted my students to learn from reading Shakespeare (i.e., learning objectives).

In this project, I wanted to consider new ways to do course design for literature classes, specifically for Shakespeare. Why do we teach Shakespeare? Is he still relevant for the twenty-first century student? If so, how? My first attempt at course design centered on which plays to teach. Now, I want to consider why and how we teach Shakespeare, and whether our students are on the same page with us. I designed a survey for undergraduates to determine whether or not they believe Shakespeare is relevant (for a college education, for the English major, for twenty-first century readers). I will use survey responses to design a set of learning objectives for an online Shakespeare class.

What do you hope to achieve through this project? What role does dialogue play in realizing your goals?

I hope to make a contribution to current conversations about Shakespeare pedagogy, professional development for graduate instructors, and the organization of the English major. I plan to use dialogue in my online Shakespeare course.

Tell us a bit about your activities this semester as an ICD fellow? (events? Preparation and planning; outreach etc?)

This semester I have been working on cleaning and analyzing the data from my survey which ran in Fall 2020. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with UConn’s Statistical Consulting Services who have consulted on the design of the survey, and are now working with the data to answer the larger research questions.

What are some of your findings through your surveys?

I’m still wading through the data, but can share some early findings! One part of the survey asked about student experiences with Shakespeare. For example, how many plays have you read total? What Shakespeare plays have you read? On average, survey respondents had read about five plays. Romeo and Juliet was the most read play, with 207 of 222 respondents having read it.

As you reflect on your experience as an ICD Fellow this year, what were some of the most significant takeaways? Where do you see this project after the ICD Fellowship year?

The most significant takeaway from my experience as an ICD Fellow has been the opportunity to learn about how to structure, facilitate, and moderate a dialogue. After the ICD Fellowship, I plan to use the survey results in the design of an online Shakespeare class. I will present the findings of my survey and the course design as part of my dissertation defense.

Réme Bohlin is a PhD Candidate in the department of English at the University of Connecticut 

4/21 @12pm – Encounters: The Great Derangement

Join

UConn Reads

Democracy and Dialogues Initiative

and

Amitav Ghosh

for

Encounters: The Great Derangement

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

12:00pm – 2:00pm

Register via Zoom:

4/21/21 10:30 AM REGISTRATION FOR THIS EVENT IS NOW CLOSED


What is it about climate change that the mention of it should lead to banishment from the preserves of serious fiction?  And what does this tell us about culture writ larger and its patterns of evasion?…

Quite possibly, then, this era, which so congratulates itself on its self-awareness, will come to be known as the time of the Great Derangement. 

The Great Derangement
Amitav Ghosh


 

Encounters Great Derangement SquareIn his new nonfiction book, The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable, celebrated novelist Amitav Ghosh confronts the failures imagination and courage that have rendered climate change unthinkable in contemporary culture and politics.  This year’s UConn Reads selection, The Great Derangement is at once a meditation on the possibilities and limitations of literature to help us make sense of planetary-scale catastrophe, and an urgent call to action for authors, artists, and activists to join in a humanity-wide social movement to reimagine and rebuild our common future.

Toward that end, UConn Reads and the Democracy and Dialogues Initiative invite you to join the dialogue as we consider our collective capacity—or incapacity—to recognize and address the climate crisis as the central planetary challenge of our time.  Join faculty, students, and staff as they engage in facilitated conversations about the themes raised in The Great Derangement, share their perspectives and experiences of the stories, histories, and politics of this moment, and listen to the experiences and perspectives of their fellow Huskies.  During the final segment of our dialogue, we will be joined by Amitav Ghosh and participants will have the opportunity to ask questions.

Learn more about UConn Reads here.


To participate:

  1. Register here for the Zoom dialogue.

  2. Read the Great Derangement in full or the excerpts below.

  3. Log-on at 12:00pm on April 21 and join the discussion!


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4/21 @5pm – Encounters: The Great Derangement

Join

UConn Reads

Democracy and Dialogues Initiative

and

Amitav Ghosh

for

Encounters: The Great Derangement

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

5:00pm – 7:00pm

Register via Zoom:

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZctc-GppzgiHdwgsAdO0FUppSFbI8hr52Hc


What is it about climate change that the mention of it should lead to banishment from the preserves of serious fiction? And what does this tell us about culture writ larger and its patterns of evasion?…

Quite possibly, then, this era, which so congratulates itself on its self-awareness, will come to be known as the time of the Great Derangement.

The Great Derangement
Amitav Ghosh


 

Encounters Great Derangement SquareIn his new nonfiction book, The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable, celebrated novelist Amitav Ghosh confronts the failures imagination and courage that have rendered climate change unthinkable in contemporary culture and politics. This year’s UConn Reads selection, The Great Derangement is at once a meditation on the possibilities and limitations of literature to help us make sense of planetary-scale catastrophe, and an urgent call to action for authors, artists, and activists to join in a humanity-wide social movement to reimagine and rebuild our common future.

Toward that end, UConn Reads and the Democracy and Dialogues Initiative invite you to join the dialogue as we consider our collective capacity—or incapacity—to recognize and address the climate crisis as the central planetary challenge of our time. Join community members from around Connecticut as they engage in facilitated conversations about the themes raised in The Great Derangement, share their perspectives and experiences of the stories, histories, and politics of this moment, and listen to the experiences and perspectives of their fellow participants. During the final segment of our dialogue, we will be joined by Amitav Ghosh and participants will have the opportunity to ask questions.

Learn more about UConn Reads here.


To participate:

  1. Register here for the Zoom dialogue.

  2. Read the Great Derangement in full or the excerpts below.

  3. Log-on at 5:00pm on April 21 and join the discussion!


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4/22 Encounters: City Beautiful

Thursday April 22

6:00-8:00pm

Hosted by the Wadsworth Atheneum

Participate in an Encounters discussion about the way in which urbanism, public sculpture, and the City Beautiful movement perpetuated and solidified racist exclusions at the beginning of the modern age. The World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago aimed to establish an experience of wonder and innovation in an endless array of exhibits showcasing artistic achievements, technological improvements, and increased knowledge of the world. Over 27 million visitors from across the globe visited the fair to partake in the spectacle that covered Chicago’s Midway, However, the vision of progress endorsed by the World’s Fair was undercut by its omissions.  About thirty years after the end of the Civil War, the fair tended to essentialize non-white participants and excluded African Americans from participating in the displays beyond caricature in racist stereotypes. This Encounters discussion will explore the critiques decrying the absence of black culture at the world’s fair.

REGISTER HERE

Encounters is a series of free virtual discussions fueled by short readings and timely subjects. Co-sponsored with the Hartford History Center at the Hartford Public Library, The Amistad Center for Art & Culture, The Old State House, the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, and the Democracy and Dialogues Initiative at the University of Connecticut.

Democracy and Community Featured on CPTV

Cutline: Democracy and Community

What do we want our democracy to look like?

The present historic moment demands robust participation in our political system and commitment to the values on which it was built. How can we support participation by all members of our community?

This spring, the Democracy and Dialogues Initiative partnered with CT Humanities, Connecticut Public Media, Everyday Democracy, and Essential Partners to create Democracy & Community: A Dialogue for Civic Renewal.

Together with a diverse group from around Connecticut, our first dialogue was recorded by Connecticut Public Media for broadcast as part of the Cutline series.

Questions?  Contact us at dialogues@uconn.edu

Watch the dialogue on CPTV, then join the conversation yourself.

Where to Watch:

Premieres

Sunday, March 28

10 a.m.

on CPTV stations

Where to Stream:

Cutline: Democracy & Community will be available for on-demand viewing concurrent with its television premiere.

Find it HERE, as well as at ctpublic.org; on YouTube; and on the free Connecticut Public mobile app.

(Visit Google Play or the Apple App Store to download the app.)

Ready to join the conversation?

Request the guide and organize your own Democracy & Community dialogue online or in person.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Sponsored by

CT Humanities

as part of

Why It Matters: Connecticut’s Civic Reconstruction

4/9 Screening & Dialogue: Crip Camp

Friday, April 9, 2020
3:00-6:00pm

Join us for a virtual screening of the film Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution, followed by a dialogue on disability rights and disability history. People who are unable to attend the documentary screening are still welcome to join us for the dialogue portion which will begin at roughly 4:55 pm.

“In the early 1970s, teenagers with disabilities faced a future shaped by isolation, discrimination and institutionalization. Camp Jened, a ramshackle camp “for the handicapped” (a term no longer used) in the Catskills, exploded those confines. Jened was their freewheeling Utopia, a place with summertime sports, smoking and make-out sessions awaiting everyone, and campers experienced liberation and full inclusion as  human beings. Their bonds endured as many migrated West to Berkeley, California — a hotbed of activism where friends from Camp Jened realized that disruption, civil disobedience, and political participation could change the future for millions.” –https://cripcamp.com/ 

To access the event, please visit https://uconn-cmr.webex.com/uconn-cmr/j.php…on Friday 4/9 at 3 pm.

This event is hosted by Dodd Human Rights Impact in collaboration with Eastern Connecticut State University’s Office of Accessibility, Eastern Connecticut State University’s DiversAbility Club, and UConn’s Disability Services. Please reach out to Samara Johnson with any questions or concerns (samara.johnson@uconn.edu). 

3/11 & 3/18 Race and Community Dialogue

Thursday March 11, 6:00-8:00pm

-or-

Thursday March 18, 6:00-8:00pm

This dialogue provides the opportunity for faculty, staff, and students to discuss, share experiences, and ask questions about race. There are two opportunities to attend: Thursday March 11 or Thursday March 18.

Given the immense amount of diversity on the UConn campus, it is important to engage in meaningful dialogues about race and racism. It is up to college campuses to respond to, engage, and reflect the diversity of their students. This workshop provides the opportunity for faculty, staff, and students to discuss, share experiences, and ask questions about race on campus. This session focuses on the barriers of creating a more diverse and accepting university as well as discussing concrete steps that we might take as a community, as an institution, and as individuals to combat racism and build a more diverse and inclusive campus environment.

 

To attend the event on March 11 please register here:

 

To attend the event on March 18 please register here: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUufuGrqTgrG9TwqzTg46hM1xTWM5E7kLd5

 

Co-hosted by the Democracy & Dialogues Initiative of the Dodd Human Rights Impact and UConn’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion. Contact Dialogues@uconn.edu with any questions. 

3/24 Bushnell Park: Paradoxes of Urban Renewal

Wednesday, March 24, 6:00-8:00pm
Hosted by Connecticut’s Old State House

‘Urban renewal’ and ‘beautification’ initiatives bring multiple benefits to our lives and communities. But what are the costs of such projects? We invite you to explore the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of urban revitalization through an evaluation of Bushnell Park on Hartford’s neighborhoods and residents.

Nineteenth-century reformers advocated for urban parks as a cure for increasing crime, poverty, and pollution in U.S. cities. Bushnell Park replaced a site referred to as “hell without the fire” filled with tanneries, tenements, livestock pens, and garbage alongside the polluted Park River. Its creation brought a beauty to the city which continues to define our public space; it also displaced two hundred people living in poverty–mostly Irish laborers and African American servants–working in Hartford’s affluent households. How do we weigh the benefits of urban improvements with its impact on the most city’s most vulnerable populations? How should past experiences of ‘improvement’ inform future projects?

Register for Zoom event here: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcsdO2qpz4pHtAhw_xgQ6tCml6HzV9uFIKK