Intergroup dialogue and service education in diversity education; A study based on participatory observation.
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In the practice of diversity education, service learning is among the preferred methods. Service learning puts an emphasis on breaking down barriers and creating relationships between students and community members from diverse backgrounds, without supplying the means to do it. It is important for students in service learning programs to learn about structural inequalities in the United States, so that they can properly engage with the communities they are serving. My research shows that participating in academic initiatives such as intergroup dialogue will better prepare privileged students to talk with diverse populations from different socio-economic and racial backgrounds (Zuniga 12). With the use of primary and secondary sources on intergroup dialogue and service learning, this human centered design ethnographic study explores the College for Social Innovation (CFSI) Fellows Program at Wheaton College (MA) and one of its partners the Petey Greene Program, analyzes intergroup dialogue and how it could be used as an integral part of the semester long internship practicum experience. Through my participant observation in these programs, I drew two important conclusions in this process. First, learning about social issues was important to CFSI and student volunteers in the Petey Greene Program. Second, dialogue provides a structured learning model, which aids discussions and experiences around socially driven work, thus furthering the participants desire to learn and engage in an academic environment. These findings stress the importance for academic initiatives to integrate intergroup dialogue into service learning programs so that participants in service learning programs can be more socially aware. This collaborative learning model, reliant on practical and pragmatic advice (Sweeney 8), will create more inclusive and socially aware student leaders.
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