INTERGROUP RELATIONS FOR STUDENTS
Central to Villanova's IGR programming is a one-credit undergraduate course (COM 5300), offered by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the Department of Communication.
Topics examined as part of IGR programming include gender, socioeconomic status, religion/faith, race, sexual orientation and ability. See below for topic descriptions.
Specially trained faculty and staff members facilitate each small class, limited to 12 students, and the cultural identities of participants are carefully balanced. Most courses meet for 2 hours once a week for 7 weeks.
Curricular components of IGR have also been adapted and integrated into advanced coursework including:
- Cross-Cultural Communication in Health Care (Senior Seminar, Fitzpatrick College of Nursing)
- Cross-Cultural Client Communication module as part of the mandatory Professional Development Course (Widger School of Law)
- Integrated Meta-processing (Communication, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Graduate Studies)
- Professional Development (Public Administration, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Graduate Studies)
- Intercultural Competencies for Ministry (Theology, College of Liberal Arts and Science Graduate Studies)
UNDERGRADUATE IGR COURSE (COM 5300)
Each course begins with attention to the dialogic process of interaction. Readings, in-class dialogue, written papers and interactive exercises are used to guide self-exploration, highlight similarities and differences among class members and increase understandings of how social structures and institutions function to allocate privilege and sustain societal inequities.
Participating students have the opportunity to:
- Develop an increased awareness of themselves as individuals and as members of social identity groups.
- Learn more about their own and others’ identities, histories and experiences.
- Explore commonalties and differences across cultural boundaries.
- Develop effective communication skills that can be used to explore conflict and build bridges.
- Identify actions that contribute to the creation of socially just communities, specifically at Villanova University.
- Observe how effective communication is an ongoing process of creating shared understanding.
- Explore the ethical and social responsibilities involved in the work of intergroup dialogue.
NOTE: Three one-credit IGR courses can be bundled to meet the Diversity 1 requirement for CLAS students and a free elective for VSB students. Courses do not have to be taken in the same semester.
Multiple sections of COM 5300 are offered each semester with topics selected from among the following:
Students explore the topic of gender identity and how gender discrimination is often invisible in our daily lives. Topics include masculinity and femininity; gender identity and gender expression; the related pressures people who identify as men, women, transgender and gender non-binary experience; images of women and others in the media; gendered language; the expectations that the construct of gender asserts broadly in U.S. society and on campus; and the intersections of gender and sexual orientation.
Students explore experiences of different levels of and identities related to socioeconomic status (SES). Class/SES is explored as a fluid identity that can change during one’s lifetime. What it means to experience privilege and discrimination because of one’s class identity is also explored.
Students engage in dialogue about their faith identities and faith journeys in relation to living in a Christian/Catholic environment. In collaboration with peers and facilitators, students discuss what is beautiful and challenging about being a member of one’s own religion/faith group, or not having membership to such a group. Particular attention is paid to students’ experiences of faith within our Catholic university context and how we make space for those who have marginalized faith identities.
This course covers the topic of racial identity and racism. Students engage with peers and facilitators about the areas in which they experience privilege and discrimination because of their racial identity. Personal experiences and lack of experience with racism are discussed, as well as what this means for being an ally.
Like the course on race, these sections engage students in dialogue on race and identity. Intragroup dialogues are available for all students. By engaging in this intragroup dialogue with peers who have similar racial identities, but different lived experiences, students gain a deeper understanding about what it means to be a member of a privileged or marginalized racial group.
Students unpack the various ways they identify with and understand sexual orientation. This course also builds on the construct of gender and allows students to talk about the ways in which their gender and sexual orientation intersect.
Participating students are asked to consider their own ability identity, what constitutes ability/disability, and how they can be better listeners and allies to individuals with a disability. Like SES, one's ability is fluid and can change at any point during one's life, challenging students to consider forms of ability/disability privilege and how that functions in a society that often stigmatizes those with a disability as less than human.
A prerequisite to this class is the successful completion of IGR on Race or Racial Identity and recommendation of the instructor. This course builds on the topics of oppression and discrimination covered in the Race and Racial identity courses, and moves students into a performative place where they embody the communication styles associated with actual and perceived notions of racial identity.
A prerequisite to this class is the successful completion of IGR on Race and Gender and recommendation of the instructor. This course challenges students to consider the intersectionality of race and gender, and how that works to privilege or oppress certain groups. The combination of gender and race identities are highlighted as communicative events in this course as students share how their identities affect their social roles on campus and in their communities.
Contact Sheryl Bowen, PhD, Faculty Director of IGR, for more information.