Democracy & Dialogues

Through the Democracy and Dialogues initiative, UConn is working to increase democratic and civic capacity by supporting community dialogues on critical issues, providing moderator and facilitation training for dialogues and deliberations, and partnering with campus colleagues and local institutions to increase meaningful participation by all community members.


This initiative is part of Dodd Human Rights Impact Programs and supported by the Office of Global Affairs, the Office of the Provost, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Humanities Institute, UConn Extension, and the Division of Student Affairs’ Parent's Fund.

5 person panel discusses housing discrimination
A five-person panel, organized by Dr. Fiona Vernal (center), discusses housing discrimination. Participants include Joshua Serrano, Pastor AJ Johnson, Annette Sanderson, and Fernando Betancourt.

The Encounters Series

The Encounters Series is dedicated to fostering unexpected conversations around divisive issues and obscure knowledge. The program dives deeply into subjects that are of interest to the Greater Hartford community through facilitated, small-group dialogues followed by a question-and-answer style conversation with UConn faculty and community partners. Readings are provided beforehand to encourage informed and informal dialogue within conversations that often prove to be polarizing, and thus unproductive. Read more about The Encounters Series through Humanities for All.

Upcoming Events

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Encounters- Helping SHaW Better Help You

February 21, 2024 | 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM | Dodd Center, Lounge

Join SHaW for a Dine and Dialogue session as we explore the significance of mental health for college students and discuss strategies to enhance student support and access to care. Dinner will be provided after the dialogue at 6:00 pm. All participants are welcome and there is no cost to register or attend.

 

Register Here

3-2-24 Encounters Democracy in Black

Encounters: Democracy in Black

March 2, 2024 | 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM | Capital Community College, Community Room on 2nd Floor

Explore the current state of democracy, address challenges, and consider the role of dialogue and civic participation in rebuilding trust and fostering solidarity in Black communities, drawing inspiration from Dr. Eddie Glaude Jr.’s ‘Democracy in Black.’ This event is hosted by the Democracy & Dialogues Initiative, part of Dodd Human Rights Impact Programs, and CT State Capital’s Hartford Heritage Project.

 

Register Here

Past Events (Fall 2023)

Transforming Corrections - A Screening and Dialogue

December 5, 2023 | 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm | The Dodd Center for Human Rights, Konover Auditorium

Explore the transformative potential of criminal justice reform in a thought-provoking event featuring the screening of the documentary “Cutline - Transforming Corrections," which follows Connecticut leaders as they explore Norway’s progressive prison system. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion and Q&A with guest scholars, activists, and experts at the forefront of enacting change here in Connecticut. Ask questions and gain powerful insights from those directly involved in reshaping our local criminal justice policies.

Register here

Encounters: Artificial Intelligence and Democracy

December 2, 2023 | 10:00 am - 12:00 pm | In-person

Engage in a dialogue about the growing impact of Artificial Intelligence on democracy and governance, including its potential uses in policymaking and elections, during an interactive program exploring these pressing questions.

Register here

Encounters: Restorative Justice

November 30, 2023 | 5:00 am - 7:30 pm | In-person

This event offers a unique opportunity to explore the principles and practices of restorative justice, focusing on accountability, empathy, and community building, through the lens of the documentary “Prison Within.”

Register here

Unlocking the Art of Moderation

November 3, 2023 | 10:00 am - 12:00 pm | Virtual

Gain insights into the role of a moderator as a guide to structured dialogues. Moderators serve as the event’s emcee, ensuring the flow and timing of dialogues while supporting facilitators.
Learn to navigate challenging conversations and dialogue management with ease. Dive deeper into the theory and practice of effective moderation and objective question formulation, leading to productive dialogues in the classroom, workplace, and/or the community. Join us now and take your moderating skills to another level!

Register here

Navigating Difficult Conversations: A Workshop on Dialogue Facilitation

November 1, 2023 | 10:00 am - 12:00 pm | The Dodd Center for Human Rights Lounge

Do you avoid difficult but important conversations? Have you wondered how to navigate a conversation that could be polarizing? Are you interested in gaining skills for engaging in meaningful dialogue with people who think differently from you? Join us for an immersive training experience, where you will

• Elevate your facilitation skills to become an invaluable leader in guiding “difficult” discussions;

• Develop expertise in fostering collaboration and mutual understanding through structured dialogue;

• Explore proven methods for maintaining, and engaging in productive conversations.

Register here

Encounters: The Changing Landscape of Policing

October 28, 2023 | 10:00 am - 12:00 pm | Parker Memorial Community Center, Hartford

21st-century America is increasingly polarized over policing. From yard signs to public protests, from political rhetoric to legislative acts, tension over the role and status of police grips us daily. Are we any closer to an answer? Join us for a dialogue on this most critically important subject in which we will explore the historical development of policing in our democracy and discuss the present-day landscape of law enforcement, community relations, and individual rights. Facilitated, small-group conversations will be followed by a Q&A with guest scholars and activists. You are warmly and respectfully encouraged to come speak from your heart about this subject that lies at the shared heart of the “Land of the Free.”

Register here

Encounters: Amistad - History, Culture, and Living Legacy

October 28, 2023 | 10:00 am - 12:00 pm | Mystic Seaport

*RESCHEDULED from October 21 due to inclement weather for the outdoor experience.

Step aboard the replica of the iconic Amistad in Mystic, CT to take part in a dialogue exploring the enduring legacy of the slave revolt that erupted on the original ship in 1839. Nearly two centuries after that momentous event, the Amistad’s legacy of fighting for racial equity still resonates strongly. Yet, we continue to live in a world plagued by racism and racial injustice. What lessons does the Amistad story have for us as we make sense of our nation’s past? What inspirations does it provide as we work toward a more racially celebratory and equitable present and future? Set against the backdrop of some of the sights and sounds experienced by the brave men and women of the Amistad as they took a stand for freedom, we will explore this famous event in history and its afterlives through small-group conversations and Q&A with guest scholars and activists. Come aboard and add your voice to the dialogue!

Register here

Encounters - Possesing Harriet

October 11, 2023 | 5:00 pm - 7:30 pm | HartBeat Ensemble, Carriage House Theater, Hartford

Please join us for Encounters - Possessing Harriet, a special dialogue event that features small group discussions, on critical questions about the play, as well as specialist feedback and engagement. This conversation model will dive deeply into the themes of Possessing Harriet through facilitated, small-group dialogues followed by a question and answer-style conversation with our community partners. Readings from the play are provided beforehand to better encourage informed and informal dialogue within conversations that often prove to be polarizing, and thus unproductive. HartBeat Ensemble will collaborate with Dodd Human Rights Impact using their patented Encounters model to provide audiences an opportunity to take a deeper dive into the intersectionality of abolition and suffrage in the 19th century and what it means in today’s battles around reparations and voting rights.

Register here

Unlocking the Art of Moderation

October 11, 2023 | 10:00 am - 12:00 pm | The Dodd Center for Human Rights Lounge

Gain insights into the role of a moderator as a guide to structured dialogues. Moderators serve as the event’s emcee, ensuring the flow and timing of dialogues while supporting facilitators.
Learn to navigate challenging conversations and dialogue management with ease. Dive deeper into the theory and practice of effective moderation and objective question formulation, leading to productive dialogues in the classroom, workplace, and/or the community. Join us now and take your moderating skills to another level!

Register here

Encounters - Destigmatizing Intimate Partner Violence

September 29, 2023 | 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm | Western Connecticut State University, Campus Center Building - Westside Campus Rooms 212/214

Domestic Violence is a pervading issue across our world. During the fiscal year of 2021, over 38,989 people sought domestic violence services in our state of Connecticut alone. This number is not reflective of all those who endure domestic violence, as violence often goes unreported. We need to shatter the silence. Through education, engagement, and empowerment, this program will shed light on domestic violence and create social change.

Join us as we learn, listen, and reflect through small group discussions with facilitators, and engage with experts in domestic violence services about this critical issue. A light dinner will be provided.

Register here

Navigating Difficult Conversations: A Workshop on Dialogue Facilitation

September 26, 2023 | 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm | The Dodd Center for Human Rights, Room 162

Do you avoid difficult but important conversations? Have you wondered how to navigate a conversation that could be polarizing? Are you interested in gaining skills for engaging in meaningful dialogue with people who think differently from you? Join us for an immersive training experience, where you will

• Elevate your facilitation skills to become an invaluable leader in guiding “difficult” discussions;

• Develop expertise in fostering collaboration and mutual understanding through structured dialogue;

• Explore proven methods for maintaining, and engaging in productive conversations.

Register here

Our Conveners

Jasmin Agosto
Hilary Bogert-Winkler
Janna Israel
Brendan Kane
Erica Laplante
Jason Mancini
Brenda Miller
Dana Francisco Miranda
Chris Newell
Endawnis Spears
Rebecca Taber-Conover
Sally Whipple

Archive

2021-22

Dialogues for Common Ground: American Identity & Connecticut’s Civic Reconstruction
Democracy is a Connecticut tradition. The “Constitution State” has for centuries been a place of evolving civic life, and has often inspired and informed the national approach to the rights of individuals and the electoral process. The 21st century brings new challenges and opportunities to innovative political engagement: locally, the “Land of Steady Habits” is a racially and ethnically diverse, economically unequal, and politically decentralized state; nationally, our democracy is under pressure from polarization, disinformation, and even violence. How might Connecticut communities harness the state’s long history of political innovation and reconstruct robust civic practices to address our present moment and look to the future?

The “American Identity and Connecticut’s Civic Reconstruction” program brings the conversation back to first principles, to the founding of the American democratic experiment, and aims to foster meaningful and informed discussion around the values that form the basis of our nation. In doing so, it encourages everyone to learn more about our shared history and to value and participate in our democracy.

This past program was funded by Connecticut Humanities through the 'A More Perfect Union' granting program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

2020-21

Included programs titled Women’s Suffrage, Monuments and Democracy In Historical Perspective, From Suffrage to Election, American Dreams, Radical Women Artists, and Race and Community Dialogue.
Read More (PDF)

2019-20

Included programs titled Uncovering Black and Indigenous Histories, Public Punishment, Race and Remembrance, Afrocosmologies, Race and Community, Public Punishment Race and Remembrance, The 2020 Census, Moderator Training, and Food Systems and Sustainability.
Read More (PDF)

2018-19

Included programs titled One Year After Maria, Treaty of Hartford, Surrealism and War, Encounters Conference, La Amistad, Emily Mae Smith and #MeToo, and States of Incarceration.
Read More (PDF)

Prior to 2018

Programs include The Voting Rights Act, Confronting Racism Through Dialogue, Guns, Rights, and the State, The Declaration of Independence, and more.
Read More (PDF)

Democracy & Dialogues Fellowship Program

The fellowship program is a University-wide partnership with participation from academic, service, outreach, and administrative units. Fellowship teams engage in a year-long shared learning process, develop projects that apply dialogue and deliberation to specific content areas and curricular settings, and make use of, and potentially contribute to, current research in practice.

News

Our People

Leadership

Brendan Kane

Brendan Kane

Director, Democracy & Dialogues Initiative
Associate Professor, History & Literature, Cultures, & Languages

brendan.kane@uconn.edu

People

Nana Amos

Program Manager, Dodd Human Rights Impact Programs

nana.amos@uconn.edu

Rachel Jackson

Rachel Jackson

Associate Director of Operations, Gladstein Family Human Rights Institute

rachel.jackson@uconn.edu

Brendan Kane

Brendan Kane

Director, Democracy & Dialogues Initiative
Professor, History & Literature, Cultures, & Languages

brendan.kane@uconn.edu