Intergroup Dialogue, Education and Action (IDEA) Center
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Program Rationale

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.The Intergroup Dialogue, Education and Action (IDEA) Center at the University of Washington School of Social Work was started in November 1996 with funding from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) 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. Intergroup dialogue--facilitated meetings of students from different social identity groups--offers an approach that can engage students in substantive, sustained and conceptually integrated learning experiences.

Intergroup dialogue is a social justice approach to dialogue. It foregrounds both societal power relations of domination- subordination, and the creative possibilities for engaging and working with and across these differences. The approach aims to move beyond seeing these differences as divisive, and to collectively generate newer ways of being powerful without perpetuating social inequalities. This approach coincides with core social work processes of empowerment--building connections with others, increasing critical consciousness about social inequalities, engendering commitments to social justice, and developing competencies to interrupt social injustices and engage in social change.

The mission of the Center has now expanded to supporting campus and community efforts geared toward addressing issues of oppression, empowerment, and alliance building for social justice.