The DePauw meets with Vice President of Academic Affairs Anne Harris to talk about the DePauw Dialogue 4.O. Answers have been edited for length and clarity.

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The DePauw: What should students expect from this Day of Dialogue, how is it different than the last few years?

Anne Harris: So this year is much more about the practice of dialogue and the actions that result from practicing dialogue. I would contrast it with previous years having more of an emphasis on education, more of an emphasis on a conference style DePauw Dialogue where we had 21 different sessions and people chose them. And I think that is engaging, but what we heard over and over again was “okay we’re hearing a lot about the ‘what,’ but how about the ‘how’,” and we’d like to be active, we’d like to do dialogue. Practice dialogue, and just hear about dialogue and that’s really been the shift. Just from talking with different student groups, talking to different faculty and staff. Really making a shift from kind of conference style to workshop style. Really listening and learning to practicing and doing and building.

TDP: Have you seen meaningful change with DePauw students, faculty and staff when it comes to accepting difference and discussing diversity and inclusion?

AH: I have to think that there is a spectrum of responses. For some, it has not moved nearly enough, and for others, they hardly recognize the school. So I think your question begs a spectrum of responses. I can tell you my own. From where I sit thinking a lot about the campus community and how it fosters learning and engagement, at this point, I have a host of stories that let me know that people are engaged in this work. What I can’t necessarily point to is a host of systems that have changed… in terms of what needles have shifted since 2014, I think we’re really looking at our systems now in a way that we haven’t before. Where I think before we were trying to be kind and nice and welcoming, we’re now starting to look at ‘how can all of our students see themselves in our curriculum, how can our pedagogy help every student persist and be resilient and achieve?’ And these are just kind of the academic questions there. When I think of campus climate, I do see us communicating more, I do. I see us communicating more before a crisis. I see us reaching out to each other. I see a lot of faculty and staff partnerships that were just not active before.

TDP: Have you started thinking about DePauw Dialogue 5.0?

AH: Not yet, and that’s quite purposeful because I think we want to see the response to dialogue 4.0. We’re doing this dialogue workshop approach. What’s the next step? Where do those students faculty and staff want to go next?… We’re the same community but were not the same community. Every year 600 students come here and 600 students enter the world and so we’re never the same thing twice, but we are also constantly developing as a community… We’re going to be keen to register and understand the response to dialogue 4.0 as we plan dialogue 5.0, but there will be a push to do so in the spring so that we get more on-campus contributions. I’m so thankful for everyone who was here on campus over the summer working on it.