inquiring about


Before requesting a signature to register, each student must
1. read this entire document
2. read the (still-tentative) syllabus
3. read the unusual Program Covenant (available at Academic Fair and posted on the College's website under "Academic Programs 2002-03)
4. discuss all the program material by phone or at the Academic Fair with the instructors

The program is designed to take you--or at least to attempt to take you into unfamiliar territory.  In signing the Program Covenant, you are committing to ten-to-twenty  weeks of what may be for you unprecedentedly respectful dialogues with people or groups in your life that you have hitherto pigeonholed or taken for granted, and with at least some persons or groups whom you currently don't talk to at all, e.g., loggers, Christian fundamentalists, or anti-Christians, or Bush-supporters or animal-rights activists or African Americans active for reparations.  Please do not sign the Covenant lightly.

The program is unusual in that the study of dialogue inevitably involves us from the start with feelings and with matters of the heart. There are differences that delight you and differences that disgust you.   There are people whom you would gladly welcome into your life and with whom you could share your good fortune; and there are others whom you can barely tolerate, whom you judge to be stupid and insensitive, whom you  wish would go away, whom you might even under duress assist to go away.

While people are complex and it is therefore impossible to predict who will and who won't benefit from the program, it is possible to enumerate a few types of people who struggle, at least initially, with this program.  (That does not mean you shouldn't enroll.):
1. Those who interpret the program description as being an in-depth exploration of animal-rights controversies or the Palestinian-Israeli conflict or parent-child relations or gender-relations, etc., etc., etc.  The program touches on such issues in the fall quarter in mostly one-week units only as examples of the power and limitations of dialogue. In the whole of the two-quarter program, only one issue is explored in multi-week depth, namely interracial reconciliation in global perspective.  (A two-to-three week treatment of Northern Ireland might be the only other exception.)  However, students will be required to focus in the Winter quarter on an in-depth group research project.
2. Those who approach the program solely as an opportunity to better communicate their own ideas.
3. Those who think of themselves as primarily care-givers and helpers without awareness of their need to help and not disposed to questioning the advice they are offering.  (Said Jung: "Only the wounded physician can heal.")
4. Those who think they are already quite good at listening and in dialogue.
5. Those who got A+ in Logic 101 and think themselves thereby quite intelligent.
6. Those who pride themselves on their "critical ability" to find something wrong or inadequate in what everybody says.
7. Those who expect instant trust from everyone they meet because they are good-hearted and expect to be treated as an individual.
8. Self-styled or self-appointed leaders.
9. People who think that because they have previously saw/read an assigned film or book on their own, they don't need to come to a discussion of it.
10. Persons who think that the silence of others gives them the right to speak as frequently as they wish.
11. Those who bring only cauliflower to every single potluck. (Small joke.)