One key concern of Mellon faculty is how to facilitate discussions on difficult topics, such as racism and other forms of oppression. The Circles training in fall semester 2016 was one initiative Mellon funds have sponsored to provide faculty with tools to address this concern. Circle work was already a part of our campuses. Circles of Understanding hosted by International and Intercultural Student Services and courses in mediation and restorative justice taught through Communication and Peace Studies are two examples. The fall training sought to build on this foundation (as well as to respond to faculty interest in circles). Our project comes out of this ongoing conversation and seeks further inroads to transformative practices. The portion of our project included here defines what Circles are and shares two perspectives about the use of Circles as a means of practicing inclusive discussion with students, particularly about more fraught or challenging subject matters. Our project aims specifically to reflect on ways in which Circles, and the philosophy of Circles, might provide new approaches to learning, as well as to restorative work in our campus community. Accordingly, our introduction addresses the question: what are Circles and how do they work? The subsequent contributions from Julie Lynch, Brandyn Woodard, and Jessica Harkins begin to explore how circles can relate to inclusivity in the classroom and in our community.
Lynch, Julie; Woodard, Brandyn; and Harkins, Jessica
"Discussing Difficult Topics—Drawing on Circles (and the Philosophy of Circles),"
Vol. 30, 124-144.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.csbsju.edu/headwaters/vol30/iss1/13