POWER and LIMITATIONS of DIALOGUE
The description of the program in the 2002-03 catalog has been updated. It remains true and central that students in the program will be expected to explore the powers of dialogue to the utmost and--if necessary--to learn from our failures.
The most significant changes in the program are:
a) the crystallization of the problem of the power and limitations of dialogue around the spectrum of options that span the traditions of moral force and physical force: dialogue, political action, non-violent protest, militant non-violence, measured violence and war. The focus on Martin Luther King and Malcolm X in the Fall quarter will be followed in the winter quarter by sustained attention to the issues of inter-racial reconciliation and reparation in local and global perspective. (Hovering in the background at all times will be the events of September 11.) All the options on the spectrum of action will be examined at every turn.
b) Greater clarity that all students in both quarters will be expected to engage in guided activities--dialogical efforts with hitherto ignored groups and/or research projects-- that are prerequisite to one's being taken seriously in a dialogue: actions speak louder than words.
What follows is the new description of the program.
Fall and Winter/Coordinated Studies
Faculty: Angela Gilliam and Patrick Hill
Prerequisites: At least two years of college-level study of the
Humanities and Social Sciences.
Part-time options: None
Internship possibilities: Embedded in the Winter quarter
Additional courses allowed? 4 credits only
Signature required: Yes
The United States is an extremely diverse society. In some areas, like music or food, we seem to revel in that diversity. In other areas, like organized religions, we merely tolerate the diversity as a civic obligation. And in still other areas we downright avoid our differences, polarizing and segregating them, unless forced to do otherwise. This program explores the power and limitations of dialogue through a study of a variety of dialogues, including our most difficult and most avoided ones.
In the fall quarter, the more theoretical of the two quarters, the emphasis is on models of human differences, on the variety of dialogues (beyond the overemphasized face-to-face conversation), and on dialogical skills, strategies and expectations. Particularly instructive dialogues, such as environmentalists and loggers, Palestinians and Israelis, and blacks and whites, will be introduced. The Winter quarter will focus on two or three dialogues, emphasizing interracial issues, particularly reconciliation and reparation in global and local perspectives.
Throughout the program, close attention will be paid to the development of the wisdom and personal skills that could maximize our own contributions to the limited power of dialogue. While a major focus of the program is on the more or less genuine dialogues of American society, these dialogues are being approached not as exhaustive studies of, e.g., racism or sexism, but as case-studies for understanding the power and limitations of dialogue. Each student will sense over the course of the program that he/she can internalize the dialogical skills as add-ons to one's already existing strategies of survival; and/or as the adoption of fundamentally de-polarizing habits of mind and heart now widely seen as vital to a pluralistic age in need of a more functional understanding of our differences.
This program might in part be described as a six-month experiment in understanding, in unprecedented, 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. As a consequence, the program will require an unusually strong Covenant. While the instructors, in their parts of that Covenant, will guarantee that no student will be intentionally embarrassed or forced to participate in any dialogue that is seriously discomforting, each student will be required to commit for six months (at least during class hours!) to listening with non-judgmental, philosophically cleansed ears to each and every classmate no matter how off-the-wall those opinions might previously have been judged to be. But no student will be allowed to dominate the seminars or to use them as a platform for proselytizing. The full Covenant, addressing all student and faculty expectations, will be available on the program's Webpage and at Academic Fair. Prospective students must read and agreed to it before admission to the program.
In a normal two-week period, there will be 1-to-2 lectures, 1-to-2 films or videos, one book-seminar and one integrative seminar. Students will in the fall quarter be required to write response-papers for the assigned books, take a comprehensive mid-term exam, compose an end-of-quarter paper on her/his personal assessment of the powers and limitations of dialogue, and maintain a journal and program portfolio (including a media-watch). Winter quarter assignments will be more tailored to the dialogues upon which the class focuses.
Possible texts: Goad's The Red Neck Manifesto, Brown's In Timber Country, Belenky, Women's Ways of Knowing, Coetzee's The Lives of Animals, Hacker's Two Nations, Dyson's I May Not Get There With You: the True Martin Luther King, Jr., Grant's White Women's Christ and Black Women's Jesus, Senge's The Fifth Discipline, Tutu's No Future Without Forgiveness, and Rittner's Living With Our Differences.
Credits will be awarded in philosophy, anthropology, sociology (Contemporary American Society), political economy, and the theory and practice of interpersonal communication.
Program is preparatory for careers and future study in mediation, educational,
business and governmental administration, teaching, anthropology,
philosophy, and ethnic, cultural and gender-studies.