Facilitated difficult dialogues on racism: a goal-based approach Academic Article uri icon


  • © 2017 National Communication Association. Racist incidents are moments that highlight the systemic racism that still exists within higher education. In 2016, the College of Liberal Arts at a historically White, Southern institution in the U.S. responded to a racist incident on campus by setting up a series of ‘Difficult Dialogue on Campus Race Relations’ sessions that gave participants the opportunity to reflect and respond to the incident. Drawing on literature about racial dialogues and social identity theory, the sessions were designed to promote active listening, build empathy, and provide practical tools to combat everyday racial microaggressions. We describe how communication design elements (such as small group settings, localized case studies, role-play, and ground rules) were tailored to fit the needs of various group settings and analyze participants’ feedback about the perceived impact of these dialogues. We present a goal-based dialogue framework as a model to facilitate difficult dialogues in a variety of applied communication contexts.

altmetric score

  • 2.7

author list (cited authors)

  • Ramasubramanian, S., Sousa, A. N., & Gonlin, V.

citation count

  • 17

publication date

  • October 2017