Sustained Dialogue

Image of Edwin Mayes, Director of First-Year Experience and Family Programs

Edwin Mayes
Director of First-Year Experience and Family Programs

Join a Sustained Dialogue Group

Members of the Case Western Reserve University community are invited to join the Sustained Dialogue Program and help make a positive impact on the campus community.

Now in its seventh year, the CWRU Sustained Dialogue program brings together individuals from various backgrounds to discuss campus, local and national issues of concern, including diversity and inclusion matters.

Dialogue groups are forming now; those interested can apply via CampusGroups.

Groups meet weekly to share their experiences and perspectives and work collectively to suggest ways to make campus more welcoming and inclusive. The program is open to CWRU students, staff and faculty. No experience or special skills are needed to participate.

Benefits of Sustained Dialogue include:

  • Meeting individuals from across campus;
  • Developing new friendships;
  • Enhancing communication and listening skills;
  • Learning how to effectively engage in critical conversations;
  • Gaining tools for and comfort in engaging with individuals from various backgrounds; and
  • Developing proposals for positive change at CWRU.

Submit an application

Sustained Dialogue Moderator Training

Moderator training is mandatory for anyone interested in becoming a Sustained Dialogue moderator. However, the training also will benefit those looking to:

  • Learn more about Sustained Dialogue;
  • Practice the art of dialogue before joining a group; or
  • Learn skills to help facilitate important conversations in the classroom, within offices or organizations.

The training is free, but registration is required.

The Sustained Dialogue program and training is sponsored by the Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusive Engagement, First-Year Experience and Family Programs and the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

2023 CWRU Sustained Dialogue Skill Series Workshop

Is a group that you care about on campus polarized or divided? Are you interested in leading dialogue circles on topics related to equity, inclusion, belonging or identity?

The Sustained Dialogue Institute will host a virtual workshop weekly on Tuesdays from Sept. 5 to Nov. 21 from 7:30 to 9 p.m. 

These workshop sessions will help participants develop professional skills for using the Sustained Dialogue model to bridge divides within student groups or across identities and backgrounds. After training, moderators will be asked to propose a dialogue-to-action group to co-moderate for other students, staff and faculty in the Case Western Reserve University community for spring semester 2024.

Sustained Dialogue is a dialogue process that helps diverse groups build relationships and move from talk to action on issues affecting their communities. It is a method for solving problems in a less overwhelming way. Sustained Dialogue can help diverse groups find shared interests and identify achievable group actions to address challenges. Through dialogue, participants collectively develop effective solutions more quickly than any would on their own.

Sessions will be synchronous, with attendance and engagement expected, however, there will be no homework or pre-reading.

During this workshop with the Sustained Dialogue Institute, workshop participants will learn:

  • Skills for being in dialogue with others;
  • How to create conditions for dialogue; and
  • How to apply these skills to building relationships and addressing complex problems within their communities and on campus.

Those who complete all sessions of the workshop series will be trained to co-facilitate a dialogue group using materials provided by the Sustained Dialogue Institute through this workshop.

Register for this free workshop. 

For this workshop, you will need to use a special discount code to register for free. The discount code is: Free4sdcnDeepMember (and it is case-sensitive). 

This workshop is a public workshop run by the Sustained Dialogue Institute. It is not specific to CWRU and if you choose this workshop you will be in a group with participants from many different communities. 

Those with questions can contact Rhonda Fitzgerald at Sustained Dialogue at

Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly is a Sustained Dialogue group?
Groups meet to discuss diversity and inclusion issues and to talk about campus, local and national issues. During the first few meetings, group members engage in a number of exercises to allow members to get to know one another and feel comfortable talking openly within the group. Group members then begin to talk about their campus experiences and ways in which the campus environment can be improved.

At the end of the academic year, groups present a proposal or series of proposals that they believe will help improve the campus environment. Proposals are presented to the university president and vice president at the Sustained Dialogue closing reception.

Who can join the Sustained Dialogue program?
The program is open to all CWRU staff, faculty and students. Everyone is invited to participate and make their voices heard!

How do I join? 
Those interested in participating in a dialogue group must complete and submit an application. Soon after the application is received, you will get notification about the status of your application. Once accepted into the program, you will be assigned to a dialogue group and notified of your dialogue group moderators.

What is the time commitment to participate in the program?
Dialogue groups meet weekly for an hour. Group members collectively decide on a meeting time. In the past, some groups have met over the lunch hour, while others met at the beginning of the work day and at other times throughout the day. Groups work hard to find a time that is convenient for all participants.

Must I attend every dialogue group meeting? 
Members are urged to attend all meetings. Regular attendance is necessary and enables individuals to bond with one another and stay abreast of issues discussed. Dialogue group members are only allowed to miss 2 meetings per semester. Individuals missing more than 2 meetings will be asked to withdraw from the group and join the program later when their schedules will allow for regular attendance.

Will my group meet for the entire academic year?
Members of the groups will decide on the duration of their group. Most dialogue groups meet for the entire academic year. However, individuals who are unable to participate for the entire year can participate for a semester only.

What are the benefits of joining the Sustained Dialogue Program?
Past participants most often say the program allowed them to meet new people, hear different perspectives and learn about others’ experiences, cultures and beliefs. The program provides a safe space where people can openly and honestly talk about their on-campus as well as off-campus experiences. In addition, participants like having the opportunity to discuss and develop proposals and initiatives that could positively impact the campus. Other benefits include, the opportunity to: enhance one’s communication and listening skills; engage in critical conversations; and develop skills for interacting with individuals from diverse backgrounds.

How does Sustained Dialogue benefit CWRU?
The program is helping to make the campus more inclusive by engaging people from various backgrounds in critical conversations. It helps to increase and improve relationships among the campus community and this leads to increased satisfaction and engagement among staff, faculty and students. In addition, the program helps promote a sense of community at CWRU.

Sponsored by:

The Office for Diversity, Equity and Inclusive Engagement and the Division of Student Affairs.

Learn more about the national program.