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University of Washington – IDEA

The Intergroup Dialogue, Education and Action (IDEA) Center at the University of Washington School of Social Work integrates the practice and pedagogy of intergroup dialogue into social work practitioner education. It also serves as a resource for other campus and community efforts geared toward addressing issues of oppression, empowerment, and alliance building for social justice.

IDEA was started in November 1996 as a response to the urgent challenges for social work educators to prepare competent practitioners who can work with an increasingly diverse clientele and embrace the profession's social justice mission. These challenges call for changes not only in the content of future practitioners' knowledge, but also in classroom pedagogies that can enhance their learning experiences while developing competencies to work in a multicultural society.

The Center is guided by its deep commitment to building alliances across differences for personal and social change. It advances the following principles:

Intergroup dialogue… is a viable and transformative means of engaging across differences, especially when these differences are marked by both culture and power. Our ways of communicating and relating often replicate the same oppressive dynamics that are both the content of our deliberations and the targets of change.

Education… signifies our commitment to the learning and unlearning processes necessary in confronting oppression and injustices. Learning new information and skills, as well as unlearning socialized and prejudiced ways of being in the world, helps expand participants' capacity for critical consciousness about the impact of multiple levels of oppression and privilege in their lives, and agency to impact upon those forces.

Action… refers to our belief that deep engagement in the intergroup dialogue and education processes can motivate and build participants capacity for becoming change agents. For social work practitioners, this means developing knowledge, attitudes, passion, commitment and skills to work with a diverse clientele and promote greater social justice.

IDEA's Activities…

  • Offer intergroup dialogues at the University of Washington School of Social Work and the larger campus.
  • Train a cadre of social work students in intergroup dialogue facilitation and intergroup dialogue-based social work practice.
  • Provide national leadership in intergroup dialogue work for multicultural and social justice education, civic engagement and citizen empowerment.
  • Conduct on-going curriculum development, research, and evaluation.

Resource Link: depts.washington.edu/sswweb/idea/

Dr. Biren “Ratnesh” Nagda, Associate Professor and Director



School of Social Work, 4101 15th Ave. N.E.




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