Dialogue Across Difference

The Dialogue across Difference (DaD) Initiative aims to model and promote the values of intellectual engagement, curiosity, empathy, active listening and critical thinking through a series of campus events, classes, informal learning opportunities and social programming. Through its four prongs of campus collaboration, student leadership, teaching programs, and training and workshops, DaD maximizes campus resources and expertise to help build these critical skills in our community.

Campus Collaboration

UCLA has a vast resource of leaders, experts and scholars who embody the DaD values of intellectual engagement, curiosity, empathy, active listening and critical thinking. The initiative brings these groups together to share best practices and make these valuable opportunities for learning and connection more accessible to our community.

DaD-recommended and affiliated events can be viewed in the Dialogue across Difference section of the UCLA Community Calendar.

Campus partners and DaD affiliates:

Student Leadership

The DaD Student Leadership Program (SLP) uses a cohort model to engage 10-15 students during AY 2023-24 on foundational DaD principles, philosophies and perspectives, and support students in developing student-generated DaD programming for the UCLA community.

The ultimate goal of this program is to empower UCLA students to design and implement campus activities that promote critical, open and respectful discourse on the UCLA campus. A particular emphasis is placed on fostering skills and practices around dialogue across differences and doing so through a diverse array of programs and events created for students by students.

Throughout DaD student leaders will:

  • Participate in monthly cohort convenings and collaborative work sessions during the fall, winter, and spring quarters
  • Work in small groups to conceptualize, coordinate and implement programming that promotes dialogue across difference and its values
  • Model the values of the program among peers and the broader campus community

Selected students receive:

  • Support and training on the principles, philosophies and perspectives behind dialogue across difference
  • Unique opportunities to meet new people, build community and experience exciting aspects of campus life
  • A $1,500 stipend ($500 per quarter)

Applications for AY 2023-24 have closed. Applications for AY 2024-25 will open in September 2024.

Student Leadership Program Program Preview AY 2023-24:
DaD Student Leaders are engaging in the following workshops and trainings during Fall 2023 and Winter 2024, and are receiving guidance on DaD themes and issues from the following experts and resources:


  • Cohort Kick Off with program onboarding & introduction from David Myers & DaD facilitators
  • Constructive Dialogue Institute Activity
  • Cohort Convening: Dialogue in Practice with UCLA alum, Dr. Monica Sanchez, Mayor Pico Rivera


  • Skills-Building Workshop #1 Bridge-Building Approaches and Frameworks — training with DaD Facilitator Maia Ferdman
  • Skills-Building Workshop #2 — training with Norm Spaulding, Stanford Law School, E Pluribus Project
  • Skills-Building Workshop #3 — Resetting the Table “Speaking Across Conflict” workshop with DaD Facilitator Maia Ferdman

Teaching Programs

Fiat Lux Offerings

In an increasingly diverse and complex world, the ability to engage in meaningful dialogue across differences is an essential skill. To facilitate a UCLA community equipped to engage in meaningful conversations, DaD has partnered with the Fiat Lux program to offer classes that facilitate the exploration, connection and understanding of differences.

The classes are focused on the following goals:

  • Fostering an understanding of the importance of dialogue across differences in personal and professional contexts
  • Understanding the role of communication in conveying scientific findings to a global audience with varying levels of expertise and knowledge
  • Bridging the gap between traditional and modern medical practices, emphasizing the value each brings to the table
  • Developing effective communication skills, including active listening, empathetic responses and conflict-resolution techniques
  • Exploring the role of cultural competence in facilitating meaningful conversations
  • Encouraging self-reflection and awareness of personal biases and assumptions
  • Empowering students to become advocates for diversity and inclusivity

The inaugural Dialogue across Difference Fiat Lux classes scheduled for spring 2024:

  • Bridget Callaghan (Psychology): Treat Yo’self: Examining Evidence Behind Modern Self-Care Movement
  • Irene Chen (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering): Writing for Wikipedia: communicating science to a global audience
  • Lily Chen-Hafteck (Music): Cultivating Cultural Understanding and Intercultural Competency through Music
  • Linda Demer (Medicine): The Autism Spectrum and Neurodiversity
  • Vinay Lal (History): The Principles, Politics, and Poetics of Engaged Dialogue
  • Susanne Lohmann (Political Science): Radical Disagreement
  • Paul Macey (Nursing): Forget the Vaccine, Give Me Ivermectin! Dialogue around Disinformation
  • David Myers (History) and Carol Bakhos (Near Eastern): Keywords: How to Talk about Terms of Contention
  • Vadim Shneyder (Slavic): Language, Identity, and Power in the Post-Communist World
  • Sharon Traweek and Nadine Tanio (Gender Studies): Tasting the difference: Terroir, pleasure, and the politics of food and drink
  • Lee Ann Wang (Asian American Studies): Living with Violence Through Feminist Genealogies of Unknowing

Training and Workshops

DaD is conducting its training efforts on three levels:




DaD seeks to build the campus’s capacity to have constructive conversations across lines of difference



DaD seeks to train campus leaders to effectively manage conversations in the classroom, workplace, and other spaces where difference is present



DaD seeks to support campus conveners to develop programs, conversations, and events that advance the goals of dialogue across difference


  • Customized training:
    • Providing capacity-building opportunities for participants in DaD’s programs, including the student fellowship, Fiat Lux course providers and Teaching Fellows
    • Providing ongoing training and capacity-building support to key audiences across campus
  • Making bridge-building resources more accessible:
    • Connecting the UCLA campus community with existing campus capacity-building resources related to dialogue and bridge-building
    • Connecting the UCLA campus to external community resources and opportunities related to dialogue and bridge-building


  • High Conflict by Amanda Ripley
  • Why We’re Polarized by Ezra Klein
  • Righteous Minds: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt
  • Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen