Student Videos: Modeling Dialogue Across Difference

College is a great place to meet and connect with people from a variety of backgrounds. Our experiences during this time exert a significant, lasting impression on our sense of self, our interpersonal relationships and our ability to effectively interact across difference. Intercultural skills are essential in a global society, and are built through experience, both positive and negative.

“Think about an incident that made you aware of your difference or difference on campus.”

167 Bates students responded to this prompt through video, focus groups and online during the 2011-2012 academic year. The purpose of this prompt was to identify authentic information about how difference is experienced on the Bates College campus and inform the development of the video vignettes you see on this page.

Participating students identified race and sexual orientation as the most salient social differences on campus. Within their narratives they described positive and negative experiences and raised questions about effective ways to interact across these types of difference. The following video vignettes depict real situations described by Bates students, providing information and illustrating four important strategies for positive intergroup dialogue drawn from personal experience and social science evidence: avoiding assumptions, demonstrating curiosity, addressing issues in the moment and maintaining emotional calm.

These videos provide concrete examples that can be used to launch conversation and address common situations that seem to arouse discomfort among students. It is our hope that those who watch them will feel more comfortable engaging across difference, even if they have yet to experience these exact situations personally.

This project was funded by the Consortium for Higher Academic Success (CHAS) Faculty Grant awarded to Associate Professor of Psychology Krista Aronson.


Arita Balaram ’12, Alison Cornforth ’12, Josalynne Cottery ’12, Benjamin Hughes ’12, Nicole Kanu ’15, Jennalee Kulig ’14, Beverly Levene ’13, Carver Low ’12, and Patrick O’Neill ’12; Krista Aronson, Roland Davis & Megan Taft (faculty/staff advisors).