Facilitating Constructive Conversations in the Classroom, December 11

Sometimes things seem to explode in the classroom, and what do we do then? Knowing strategies for turning difficult encounters into learning opportunities enables us to address important, but hot, topics — religion, politics, race, class, gender — in our classroom discussions.
Lee Warren, Derek Bok Center

Students often bring up difficult issues in class. We and our students are experiencing the ramifications of events in the Middle East; police use of excessive force; shootings in churches, schools, and movie theaters; the intensifying immigration debate; ongoing discussions of racism and genderism; and whatever turns up in the morning’s news. It is important to hone our skills in facilitating constructive conversations in the classroom.

Join Sophia McGee and John Vogelsang, from QC’s Center for Ethnic, Racial, & Religious Understanding (CERRU) for a workshop that will help you:

  • foster a safe space for constructive conversations; and
  • develop and augment your skills for facilitating constructive conversations about difficult issues in the classroom

The session will include small and large group discussions, role plays, case studies, and demonstrations of techniques with opportunities to practice them.

The series is open to all Queens College faculty (full- and part-time). If you are interested, please sign up by filling out this brief form: https://goo.gl/qzPZf1

You can expect to take away from the session:

  • Various approaches to facilitating constructive conversations
  • Affirmation and deepening of your facilitation skills

Date: Friday, December 11, 2015
Time: 10:00 am-1:00 pm
Location: Razran 347
The Center for Teaching & Learning will provide brunch.

Please read these resources prior to Friday, December 11:

Handbook for Facilitating Difficult Conversations

SCARF: a brain-based model for collaborating with and influencing others

Decoding Modern Racial Discourse: A System Justification Theory Approach

Overcoming Microaggressions


Sophia McGeeSophia McGee holds a Master’s Degree in International Affairs from the Graduate Program in International Affairs at the New School University. Her concentration was Conflict and Security, and her regional area of specialization was the Middle East, with a focus on the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict. While at the New School, Sophia developed an interest in experiential pedagogy; particularly the development and use of classroom simulations.

In her current position at Queens College, Acting Director of The Center for Ethnic, Racial, and Religious Understanding, she has co- written four original simulations for students in the “America and the Middle East: Clash of Civilizations or Meeting of Minds” series of courses, which she co-teaches with Professor Mark Rosenblum. Ms. McGee has lectured and presented both on current affairs involving Israel, the United States, and the Palestinian Territories, as well as the use of innovative pedagogy to teach the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict. Most recently, she co-taught one of the “America and the Middle East” simulations at Hampshire College. She also served as a Simulation Coach/Consultant alongside experts Ahmad Khalidi and Yossi Alpher to students of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva Switzerland. Other lectures and presentation venues include the New School University, The Montreal Dialogue Group, Columbia University Teacher’s College, Queens College, the Suffolk YWHA, and The Central YWHA of Queens. Sophia is a member of the International Society for Political Psychology, as well as Queens College’s Experiential Education Working Group. She is also the Artistic Director of the Kupferberg Center for the Performing Arts’ “First Acts” Initiative.

Ms. McGee received her Undergraduate Degree from Carnegie Mellon University, where she studied at the College of Fine Arts. In her first career, Sophia was an actress, singer and dancer who appeared on and off Broadway, regionally and internationally, and in films and commercials.

jVogelsangJohn D. Vogelsang, PhD, has been working for over thirty-eight years in the areas of conflict transformation, organizational transitions, strategic planning, participatory evaluation, board development, small and large group dialogue and deliberation facilitation. His clients have included foundations, human service and mental health agencies, community health centers, universities, professional associations, religious judicatories, arts organizations, and advocacy groups. He is the Acting Director of the Michael Harrington Center for Democratic Values and Social Change and Director of the Dialogue Project for the Queens College Center for Ethnic, Racial, and Religious Understanding.

He is also an Adjunct Associate Professor in the American University MS program in Organization Development. For two years, he was a visiting professor of nonprofit and NGO management and organizational conflict at the School for International Training Graduate Institute. Prior college teaching includes: a graduate summer course in group facilitation and group dynamics at Johnson State College (1980 – 1996); and a course in organization development and group dynamics at General Theological Seminary (1983 – 1990). He has published many monographs and articles on organization development, conflict, and leadership issues. Since 2009, he has been the Editor in Chief of the OD Practitioner, the quarterly journal of the Organization Development Network. He is the 2013 recipient of the OD Network Larry Porter Award for his contributions to the field.



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