Learn About Sustained Dialogue

Learn about Sustained Dialogue and the Sustained Dialogue Institute (SDI), a partner with Lawrence University for the 2016-2017 academic year.

What is Dialogue?
(from Sustained Dialogue)
Dialogue is a process of genuine interaction through which human beings listen to each other deeply enough to be changed by what they learn. Each makes a serious effort to take other’s concerns into their own picture, even
when disagreement persists. No participant gives up their identity, but each recognizes enough of the other’s valid human claims so that they will act differently toward the other.
- - -
Dr. Harold Saunders,
Board Chair and Founder of SDI

Dialogue is a distinct way of communicating, seldom practiced in daily interactions. When people with varied viewpoints converse in order to seek mutual understanding, they are in dialogue. In a society of arguments and roundabout discussion, dialogue stirs us to reassess our earlier assumptions.

The goal of dialogue is not for participants or moderators to change others, but for participants to allow themselves to be changed through engagement with new experiences, ideas, and people. Moderators create learning spaces in which participants gain new understandings based on the experience of others.


What is Sustained Dialogue?
(from Sustained Dialogue)
Sustained Dialogue (SD) is a dialogue-to-action process that (1) transforms relationships and (2) creates informed community change. SD is rooted in the conflict resolution methodology of senior Middle East diplomat Hal Saunders, a key drafter of the Camp David Peace Accords. During Hal’s international negotiations, he observed
that participants’ relationships evolved through a recognizable pattern. He distilled those observations into two key concepts that serve as the foundations of SD:

1.A focus on relationship-building through concrete analytical tools
2. A five-stage dialogue-to-action process

On campuses, SD organizers gather participants from diverse backgrounds into small groups that meet regularly to build relationships and develop informed strategies to improve their campuses and communities, especially around the following dimensions of identity which SDI calls the big 8: 

Disability and Mental Health
Race & Color
Sex & Gender
Sexual Orientation
Socioeconomic Status/Class


What Does SD Look Like?
(from Sustained Dialogue)

  • Dialogue groups of 8 to 15 participants that meet for a pre-determined length of time (month, term, or year)
  • Two trained peer moderators lead each dialogue group
  • Student leaders or club officers support groups logistically and hold events throughout the school year that promote and help create a more inclusive larger community.
  • SD is sustained in three main ways:
  1. Time & Duration: SD groups meet consistently at an appointed weekly time for at least an hour.
  2. Participants & Moderators: Each SD group maintains the same participants and moderators.
  3. Continuity of Conversation: Each meeting is designed to continue where the last ended.
  • Moderators, student leaders, and/or club officers plan social activities to build relationships within and between dialogue groups.

How do I get involved?
Check out the Sustained Dialogue Institute website:  http://sustaineddialogue.org/
Become a Sustained Dialogue participant!  Register with the webform to indicate your desire to engage in regular dialogue with a diverse group of campus community members.
Become a Sustained Dialogue moderator!  Register with the webform to indicate your desire to engage in  training to be prepared to facilitate ongoing and engaging dialogue during the 2016-2017 year.  The inaugural daylong training is scheduled for Saturday, October 22nd. 
Participating in the daylong training does not mean you will be required to facilitate a Sustained Dialogue group.  Your role as facilitator will be based on your interest in SD at Lawrence and will be coordinated with the Dean of Students office. 

If you have any questions about Sustained Dialogue at Lawrence please don’t hesitate to contact Dean of Students Curt Lauderdale at curt.lauderdale@lawrence.edu 920-832-6596.


If you have questions about Sustained Dialogue at Lawrence University, contact Dean of Students Curt Lauderdale at curt.lauderdale@lawrence.edu, 920-832-6596.

LarryU Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube