Office of Student Conflict Resolution

What is Facilitated Dialogue?

Facilitated Dialogue is a structured conversation between two or more parties involved in a conflict (“Disputants”).

Through Facilitated Dialogue, disputants can:

• Share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences with one another in a confidential space

• Work toward mutual understanding of one another’s opinions and beliefs

• Identify areas of common ground and make decisions about how differences of opinion could be managed

• Explore the possibility of reaching mutually agreeable solutions. While Agreements can occur, they are not central to the Facilitated Dialogue process.

Who’s involved?

• Disputants – the parties involved in a conflict.

• Facilitators – Student or professional staff members from the Office of Student Conflict Resolution (“OSCR”).

How does it work?

In a typical Facilitated Dialogue:

• When all disputants have agreed to participate in Facilitated Dialogue, OSCR will arrange for a suitable day, time, and location.

• The Dialogue begins with a brief review of participant expectations. The facilitator will also assist disputants in establishing ground rules.

• The disputants develop an initial list of topics for discussion and the order in which they will be discussed.

• Disputants participate in a dialogue on each of the topics for discussion. The facilitator will help disputants separate dialogue from decision‐making.

• The facilitator will record progress and provide a written summary of each session.

• Should more than one session be necessary, the facilitator can help schedule future meetings.

• If disputants choose to create an Agreement, the facilitator can assist with drafting.

What are the benefits of using Facilitated Dialogue to resolve complaints?

• Disputants in Facilitated Dialogue engage in an open‐ended exploration of the issues at hand (“How can we best achieve the outcomes we both say we’re looking for?”), rather than remaining stuck in adversarial negotiating positions (“It’s your fault that our program is failing!”).

• Facilitators are multipartial, rather than impartial or neutral. Multipartiality means that facilitators "can show participants that there is more than one way to view a conflict"  (Wilgus & Holmes, 2009). Facilitators will act to ensure that all parties will have the opportunity to share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences about the conflict as well as what could be done to make things better.

• For complaints that may also constitute violations of the Statement, successful resolution using Facilitated Dialogue means that the Respondent does not incur a disciplinary record.

Works Cited

Wilgus, J. K., & Holmes, R. C.  (2009).  Facilitated dialogue: An overview and introduction for student conduct professionals.  In J. M. Schrage & N. G. Giacomini (Eds.), Reframing campus conflict: Student conduct practice through a social justice lens (pp.112-125).  Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing, LLC.