Facilitating Inclusive Conversations

Conversation Considerations

Conversations about race, discrimination, and social justice issues may happen in many different situations across our campus communities. Classroom dialogue can be carefully planned and structured around curricular content. While the resulting conversations are often challenging, the facilitators and participants alike often have the opportunity for some preparation. 

Casual comments made in informal settings, from the athletic fields and event spaces to the laboratory or the library, can also lead to difficult, emotionally charged conversations. The lack of advance preparation in these situations can sometimes lead to harm for individuals, especially if they include microaggressions or microinvalidations.

Because challenging conversations can arise in so many varied situations, it can be helpful to think through how you might approach this type of conversation. Keep in mind that your ultimate goal is to model a caring approach to creating inclusive and equitable conversation. Your thoughtful modeling gives students' tools they can use in conversations throughout their school, work, and personal interactions.

The following infographics provide actionable steps on how to plan and start conversations, as well as some common assumptions to avoid.

Planning Conversation


Starting Conversation


Authentic Engagement


Assumptions to Avoid


Download an accessible pdf

establishing class community

Using a Course Covenant

Establishing a course covenant with your students at the start of the semester can create a learning environment centered on shared principles, values and expectations.

Set the Tone

University of Michgan's Inclusive Teaching program provides detailed guides to help set the tone for classroom conversations including:

Creating Student Centered Policies

A helpful guide from the Student Experience Project for creating course policies that promote equity and brings voice to the lived experiences of all your students. 

Additional Resources: