Shereen Bingham and Hollis Glaser, along with Nora Bacon (English), have been awarded a $100,000 Ford Foundation Grant.
"The purpose of the difficult Dialogues project at UNO is to challenge the culture of silence on our campus and in our community," the grant application read. "The project focuses, in part, on process, on teaching the tools for constructive dialogue and infusing them in to the classrooms, co-curricular programming, and community forums."
The Ford Foundation originally reviewed more than 675 proposals, Glaser said. In a second stage, 137 proposals were reviewed. The UNO project was one of only 26 fully funded grants. In all, $2.8 million was awarded in an effort to fight anti-Semitism, fear of Islam, and other forms of religious bigotry.
This two year project, designed to create opportunities for open, productive dialogues on issues of religion, sexuality and race, aims to change the campus culture by integrating dialogue theory and practice into the core curriculum and co-curricular activities of the university. Another goal is to encourage and support difficult dialogues in the community. This project is designed to challenge the culture of silence on campus and in the community.
The first year's project activities will introduce the knowledge and skills needed for dialogue about sensitive and controversial issues to faculty and staff. This will be done through a dialogue workshop conducted with the guidance of the Public Dialogue Consortium, and the development of specific plans for infusing dialogue into the curriculum and co-curricular activities. The second year's activities will provide continuing support to core faculty and staff, widen the circle to include student leaders, and extend the work into the community.
The project will institutionalize a process by which faculty, staff and students can learn to talk with one another about difficult issues of race, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation in a climate of active inquiry and exploration, openness to difference, and mutual respect.