Global Dialogue Event

October 24, 2012
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library

Learn skills and tools for engaging cultural differences in constructive and productive ways from Shawn Spano, professor of communication studies at San Jose State, who served as facilitator for a 2012 Global Dialogue event.

Participants include JAMK University of Applied Sciences delegates from Jyväskylä Finland, students from West Valley College and students from San Jose State. Video excerpts of the Global Dialogue event are provided.

Upcoming Dialogue

The Difficult Dialogue Program is conducting one campus dialogue this semester.

Topic: Words that Hurt

When: March 20, 2:30 - 4:30 p.m.

Where: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library 225/229

Interested in attending? Please contact Shawn Spano at

The purpose of the event is to understand the opportunities and challenges of communicating in a globally diverse and multicultural world.  Dr. Shawn Spano, professor of communication studies at San José State University serves as the facilitator for the Global Dialogue Event.  Students in Dr. Spano’s Communication Studies course serve as facilitators for the small group discussions. 


Video Segment 1: Starting the Dialogue (15:55 minutes)

Welcome remarks are given.  Dr. Spano sets the context for the dialogue by stating the purpose and introducing a small group activity aimed to help the students get to know each other better.  In small group discussions, the students introduce themselves in the context of this event, as well as provide additional information about themselves that are not part of this context.


Video Segment 2: Global Dialogue in a Multi-Cultural World (5:35 minutes)

Being competent and effective in communicating across cultural differences requires recognizing the diversity and complexity that is in each one of us, and being interested in understanding and exploring those differences. Dr. Spano recaps the purpose of the previous small group activity which was to learn about each other and build trust.  He explains that being competent and effective in communicating across cultural differences requires recognizing the diversity (complexity) that is in each one of us and being interested in wanting to understand and explore those differences.  In the next small group discussion, students will discuss the opportunities and the challenges of communicating with others who are culturally different. 


Video Segment 3: Dialogue Skills, Tools and Concepts (6:42 minutes)

Dr. Spano discusses how to maximize opportunities and overcome challenges for communicating with people that are culturally different from each other.  Dialogue is an ideal form of communication for embracing, engaging and learning from our diversity and differences.  There are three skill sets to effective dialogue: 

  1. Standing your ground (honest, forthright, explicit expression of your perspective).  Express yourself with clarity, ownership and authencity.
  2. Being open to the other person (less talking, more listening, trying to understand the other person’s position).  Be curious, open (no judgment) to understanding and listening to the other person’s position from their perspective.
  3. Doing both – being in dialogue means standing your ground and being open to the other person.  Not one or the other but both.  Shift back and forth to do both at the same time and invite the other person to do both.


Video Segment 4: Role Play Exercise (11:36 minutes)

Students role play dialogue using three short scripts.  After each script, Dr. Spano facilitates a discussion about the role play and whether the dialogue was effective.  For the next small group activity, all participants are asked to select a scenario and create a script for effective dialogue.


Video Segment 5: Role Play Demonstration of Scripts (12:22 minutes)

Students role play dialogue using the scripts they created.


Video Segment 6: Effective Dialogue (9:37 minutes)

Dr. Spano wraps up the event by facilitating a discussion about effective dialogue.