News Release: University News

May 29,  2009

Facing Race: TCP takes on tough conversations

From Emory Magazine

A five-year, university-wide project on race has brought unlikely people together, with some remarkable results. The Transforming Community Project  (TCP), Emory’s ambitious attempt to examine its racial history and current issues around race, has involved hundreds of faculty, staff and students since it began in 2005.

The linchpin of TCP remains the community dialogues. These small, diverse groups meet over breakfast, lunch or dinner with a pair of facilitators to discuss readings or documentary films about race. TCP participants—regardless of their race, ethnicity, class or gender—each have their own racial histories to sort through, and that, fundamentally, is what has led some 1,500 Emory staff, faculty, and students to participate in this path-breaking program during the past four years. 

Many former group participants later sign on to be facilitators, who undergo training before assuming their roles. “I think it was a good thing that the dialogues were facilitated by people who were internal and who were also in their own growing process,” says Matt Engelhardt, current president of the Employee Council and a development officer. “We were all on a learning path.”

The dialogues work, thinks Richard Doner, a political science professor who had a hand in developing them, because the curriculum that undergirds the process “has built-in contention and arguments that make it safe, so that the whole thing doesn’t blow up.”

Emory alumna Mary Parker, who as a student facilitated several community dialogues, says “TCP takes Emory as a whole, including graduate and undergraduate students, faculty and staff and has the same conversation, as opposed to different conversations among these groups. It’s the only organization that encompasses all aspects of the university in a difficult dialogue, talking as a community as opposed to separate organizations.”

View "Facing Race" at Emory Magazine for the complete story.

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