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University Of Virginia To Host National Sustained Dialogue Campus Network Conference On Grounds April 9 And 10

March 30, 2005 --

WHAT:       National student conference on process to improve race relations

WHEN:        April 9 and 10, 2005

WHERE:      Clark Hall and other locations at U.Va.

A new kind of program is spreading across college campuses, one that gives students the experience of building constructive relationships and resolving differences peacefully.

Practitioners are calling this innovative program, Sustained Dialogue, the “essence of democracy.” The Sustained Dialogue groups, each one comprising about 12-14 students of various backgrounds and ethnicities, meet regularly to work out issues related to racial tensions and other differences, by seeing their dialogue through to a satisfactory level of understanding in an atmosphere of honesty and trust.

The University of Virginia will host the second annual National Sustained Dialogue Campus Network conference in Charlottesville April 9 and 10. Up to 150 students from college campuses around the country will meet to discuss resources and support for members of Sustained Dialogue groups and to train new moderators who are interested in starting these groups at their schools. Alumni and moderators will lead many of the sessions.

The leaders of the International Institute for Sustained Dialogue, Harold Saunders and Randa Slim, also will give talks at the conference.

“Another goal is also to strengthen the intercollegiate network of schools and student leaders across the country who are working together to improve race relations and student climate in general,” said Priya Parker, a 2004 U.Va. alumna who now heads the Sustained Dialogue Campus Network for the International Institute for Sustained Dialogue, located in Washington, D.C.

Parker and other students started Sustained Dialogue at U.Va. several years ago, making it the second university in the country to start such a program. There are now more than a dozen campuses using the Sustained Dialogue process.

The International Institute for Sustained Dialogue is an organization founded by Saunders, a former deputy secretary of state, to promote this process for transforming racial, ethnic and other deep-rooted conflicts in the United States and abroad. According to the Web site (see http://www.sustaineddialogue.org), “sustained dialogue is a critical instrument for engaging ‘whole human beings’ in deeply divided communities. This process for transforming conflictual relationships among citizens outside government can be a point of entry into the relationships among the groups with which they identify…In short, sustained dialogue can create a microcosm of the relationships between whole groups and an experience in analyzing and changing relationships.”

Contact: Anne Bromley, (434) 924-6861

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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