Presidential Initiative on Constructive Dialogue

The Presidential Initiative on Constructive Dialogue focuses on how the Pitzer community and beyond can talk constructively about challenging issues. 

This initiative and its organizing committee will be dedicated to fostering a culture of open and constructive dialogue on campus and beyond, based on the following initial goals and objectives:

  • Facilitate Constructive Conversations: Organize events and workshops to enhance communication skills, active listening, and empathy. Create brave spaces for open discussions on sensitive topics.
  • Promote Inclusivity: Develop programs that embrace diversity and inclusivity, securing effective participation from students, faculty, and staff.
  • Collaborate Across the College: Partner with field groups, student organizations, and administrative areas to integrate new dialogue initiatives with existing programs. Collaborate with faculty to incorporate elements into curricula.
  • Assess and Get Feedback: Establish a system for ongoing assessment and feedback to measure the impact of the initiative. Regularly review and adapt programs based on findings.
  • Build on Success: Develop a communications strategy to raise awareness about the importance of constructive dialogue on campus and the initiative itself. Showcase success stories and positive outcomes resulting from programs and the initiative.

Read more about the initiative from President Strom C. Thacker’s message to the Pitzer Community.

Upcoming Events

Inside/Out as a Model for Constructive Dialogue
April 22 at 4:15 pm
Benson Auditorium

Join us for a panel discussion featuring Pitzer faculty, staff, and students involved with the Inside/Out program. Formerly incarcerated students in Pitzer’s Pathway to BA program, current students, and faculty will talk about listening and learning from each other across differences, and how this may be applied to the classroom and campus community at Pitzer.

Reception hosted by the Constructive Dialogues Organizing Committee (CDOC) in Benson Atrium immediately following program. Come meet and talk to members of the CDOC to hear plans and share ideas for future.program

Past Events

Screening & Discussion: The Barber of Little Rock

A special screening of the 2024 Academy Award-nominated short film, The Barber of Little Rock, was followed by a discussion with co-director John Hoffman and the titular barber himself, Arlo Washington. This event was co-sponsored by the Melvin L. Oliver Racial Justice Initiative.

Watch the discussion below:

The Barber of Little Rock explores America’s widening racial wealth gap through the story of Arlo Washington, a local barber whose visionary approach to a just economy can be found in the mission of People Trust, the nonprofit community bank he founded. Experiencing the effects of generational poverty and structural racism firsthand, Arlo understands his hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas and the profound mistrust of financial institutions that have historically excluded his community from financial stability and economic mobility. Operating as the sole bank within a ten-mile radius, Arlo’s People Trust fosters economic progress for underserved and underbanked residents, providing an economic beacon of hope that could reshape the future of banking.

The film is part of the The New Yorker Documentary Series, a showcase for important short films from around the world, and is available on the magazine’s digital channels.

John Hoffman co-directed the film with Christine Turner. Hoffman is also a producer who is recognized for The Antidote (2020)Allegra’s Window (1994) and The Alzheimer’s Project (2009), among other films.

How Do We Talk about Israel and Palestine?

President Strom C. Thacker moderated a conversation between Salam Al-Marayati and Daniel Sokatch, who have collaborated at other events on dialogues about Palestine and Israel. Read our news story about the conversation or view the discussion in its entirety below:

Speaker Bios

presidential initiative on constructive dialogues speaker Salam Al-Marayati

Salam Al-Marayati is president and co-founder of the Los Angeles-based Muslim Public Affairs Council. He is an expert on Islam in the West, Muslim reform movements, human rights, democracy, national security, and Middle East politics. He has spoken at the White House and onCapitol Hill and has represented the U.S. at international human rights and religious freedom conferences. His writings have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times.

Daniel Sokatch is CEO of the New Israel Fund and author of Can We Talk About Israel? A Guide for the Curious, Confused, and Conflicted, a National Jewish Book Award finalist. The NIF is an organization with joint Jewish-Palestinian leadership whose work includes supporting Palestinians in Israel, human rights groups monitoring and defending human rights in the occupied territories, and more. Daniel previously served as CEO of the Jewish Community Federation, Bay Area and Sonoma County,and was founding Executive Director of the Progressive Jewish Alliance (now Bend the Arc)Hehas been named to The Forward newspaper’s annual list of fifty leading Jewish decision-makers and opinion-shapers and has contributed to The New York Times, The Washington PostHaaretz, and others.

Anna Malaika Tubbs: The Three Mothers

Have you ever thought about the contribution of mothers in shaping our nation in the face of patriarchy? Did your K-12 history books give a nuanced understanding of the Civil Rights Movement? We unpacked these questions and more in the first installment of the Presidential Initiative on Constructive Dialogue, featuring writer, organizer and educator Anna Malaika Tubbs.

Tubbs discussed her work with Interim Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Jan Barker Alexander and Bee Joyner ’24, who asked Tubbs about how she told American history through Black women’s eyes. Their talk was the first installment of Pitzer’s Presidential Constructive Dialogues Initiative and was co-sponsored by the Melvin L. Oliver Racial Justice Initiative.

Read our story recapping the event and learn more about how the mothers of MLK Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin shaped our nation.