POWER AND LIMITATIONS OF DIALOGUE
Fall and Winter 2002-03
two parts this Program Covenant. The first covers aspects unique
to the "Power and Limitations of Dialogue" program. The second concerns
responsibilities assumed in any Evergreen program.
programs of Evergreen depend (to a degree unmatched at other schools) upon
students' learning from each other. These "learning communities"
are a uniquely social way to learn, requiring that people face each other
directly, challenge each other, and allow themselves to be challenged in
"Power and Limitations of Dialogue" program might well be described as
a ten-week experiment in unprecedented and radical or respectful listening.
Such an experiment is one of a few crucial pre-requisites to both assessing
the power and limitations of dialogue and to improving our own dialogical
skills and wisdom. "Methodological Doubting and Believing," an article
by former Evergreen colleague Peter Elbow (on reserve at the library),
is a good (though overly gentle) introduction to what will be asked of
program is a learning community especially focused on understanding human
differences, including and especially our deepest and most difficult and
avoided differences. All members of this learning community, students
and faculty, are expected to commit themselves to "conversations of respect"
with persons different from themselves, to learn from these conversations,
and to be as open to change of opinion and behavior as is humanly possible.
It will not be acceptable to refuse to listen or to enter into conversations
with particular persons because of differences of opinion, no matter how
strongly held. It will also not be acceptable to exploit the experimental
atmosphere of the class to dominate or browbeat others into listening to
one's favorite theories on this or that side of the socio-political spectrum.
Conversations of respect are two-way streets.
of respect between diverse persons or communities are characterized by
intellectual reciprocity. They are ones in which the participants
expect to learn from each other, expect to learn non-incidental things,
expect to change at least intellectually as a result of the encounter.
Such conversations are not animated by nor do they result in mere tolerance
of the pre-existing diversity, for political or ethical reasons.
In such conversations, one participant does not treat the other as an illustration
of, or a variation of a truth or insight already fully possessed.
There is no will to incorporate the other in any sense into one's belief
system. In such conversations, one participant does not presume that
the relationship is one of teacher to student (in any traditional sense
of that relationship), of parent to child, of developed to underdeveloped.
The participants are co-learners.
of respect cannot be based on mere tolerance--on the "live-and-let-live"
or "to-each-his-own" attitudes of individualistic relativism. Such
conversations need something at once more binding or relating of diverse
viewpoints, and something that grounds the respect in a public sphere,
in a world or situation that is at least temporarily shared. It is
impossible to respect the diverse other if one does not believe that the
views of the diverse other are grounded in a reality that binds or implicates
everyone as much as do our own views.
program does not assume that everyone or most everyone in this learning
community is capable at the outset of conversations of respect. What
this Covenant demands is a commitment to the effort. What it also
demands is an effort from each student to help other students in making
progress towards these conversations. In the midst of difficult conversations
about racism or sexism or ageism, for example, all students will be expected
Maintain a reflective and non-dogmatic approach to the study of cultures,
ideologies and worldviews;
Be willing to examine one's own cultural, philosophical, and political
Promote a cooperative, supportive atmosphere within the group that gives
everyone the opportunity for learning;
Give all persons opportunity and encouragement to speak. Interject
only 20% of what you think it is absolutely necessary to say.
Treat each person with kindness and respect, especially when disagreeing
with that person's ideas and feelings;
Allow each person to make mistakes, more than one mistake, and provide
feedback on those mistakes in a manner which does not make further
conversation impossible or less likely.
rhythm of the program will expose all students to many challenging thoughts,
it is the special responsibility of the faculty to conduct class in such
a manner that no one will be intentionally embarrassed or be forced to
participate in any dialogue that they judge unmanageably discomfiting.
Responsibilities of Students:
seriously in the program. The College's expectation --not peculiar
to this program--is that the each student invest 35 hours of classroom/group
meetings or directed-study work and 70 hours of outside-classroom reading/research
and preparation per quarter per 4 hours of credit.
Maintain a record of your work in the "Work Log" section of your "Program
Portfolio" as described in detail in the Program Syllabus.
Attend and be actively involved in all program sessions unless prevented
by sickness or unforeseen and unavoidable outside responsibilities. If
possible, notify the instructor or a classmate in advance of such absences.
Arrive on time.
Do all required reading and writing assignments. Use high standards in
reading the texts and in preparing papers and comments in seminar.
Hand in all assignments on time.
Be willing to take thoughtful risks.
Be sensitive to and cooperative with the needs of people with the schedules
and responsibilities different from one's own.
Given the nature of this class, absences and latenesses are serious matters.
Everyone is entitled to three absences with legitimate excuse (as judged
by you). Nonetheless, to keep you current with the class, even these
excusable absences must be made up. How you have made up these absences
should be written up in the tabbed section of the Program Portfolio called
"Absences and Latenesses".
Absences beyond three and up to six need to be made up in a more thoroughly
detailed fashion. Absences beyond six cannot be made up and will
result in an automatic loss of credit at the schedule of 1 credit per absence.
Special responsibilities/pledges of the instructor:
1. Be on time and prepared for each class meeting.
2. Invest minimally one hour of one-on-one time in the course of the quarter
with each student in the program.
3. Respond to each student as an individual.
4. While avoiding premature judgment or early harvesting, strive to provide
early warning to students who might be in any danger of either losing credit
or receiving a negative evaluation. Whenever possible, provide opportunities
to students to correct shortcomings before they appear on an official evaluation.
5. Respond to all disputes with understanding and in the spirit of the
separate sheet, entitled "Program Covenant" will be circulated in the first
meeting of the class for all to sign.