Discussion Between Guy And Girl Over Gray BackgroundTopic Overview

Inclusivity does not mean avoiding difficult dialogues. Instead, inclusivity encourages productive difficult dialogues in the classroom. Start Talking is a no-cost OER that provides guidance and activities to design productive dialogues.


Embrace Controversy

Do not avoid controversy, it can provide a great learning opportunity. Controversy can prompt students to conduct further research, state their ideas and opinions clearly and defend and explain their positions. It is important to remember that ideas can be attacked, not people.

Group Work

Provide opportunities to work in small groups. In small groups, students meet and discuss ideas, thoughts and positions with others with very different views. It helps to challenge what we think we know. Plus, it is fun!


  • Libby Roderick: Start Talking a Handbook for Engaging Difficult Dialogues in Higher Education: Start Talking explores productive ways to engage difficult dialogues in the classroom and other academic settings. It presents a model for a faculty development intensive, strategies for engaging in controversial topics in the classroom.
  • The Thomas Kilman Conflict Mode Instrument: Places you on a scale of how likely you are to avoid conflict want to merge folks to the collaborative end of the scale tend to hear from the students on the aggressive end of the scale.
  • Harvard 20 Minute Manager: Difficult Conversations: Contains class activities to help manage difficult conversations.
  • Valparaiso University: Center for Civic Reflection: Get help with how to handle difficult conversations. Harvard Conversation Readers.

Diving Deeper/Research