Hutchins Dialogue Center

The Hutchins Dialogue Center (HDC), which is a part of the Hutchins Institute for Public Policy (HIPP), is designed as an institutional home for dialogue at Sonoma State University. While dialogue is a multifaceted thing, the HDC focuses on it as an exercise in the exchange of ideas and perspectives. Through Socratic discussion of texts, films, current events and ideas, dialogue can broaden understanding, deepen critical thinking, and simultaneously foster independent thought while strengthening the bonds within a given community.

Core Beliefs of Dialogue:

  • Dialogue is Diversity in Action: Dialogue helps people become aware of differences, helping them understand and appreciate them. Through workshops, training, and practice--whether as students, teachers, citizens, or employees--all groups can learn to listen for understanding and find common ground. HDC believes that this level of understanding is the key to optimal group performance.
  • Dialogue is a Basic Human Need: Equitable interaction among people is a requirement for the construction of healthy communities. Within a group, there exists many strengths that go untapped and potential that goes unrealized due to conflict, miscommunication, and power struggles. Through optimal learning and improved communication, a greater proportion of these strengths can be accessed and put into action. The attitudes and skills that result from dialogue training create more productive students, citizens and employees in many contexts.
  • Dialogue is a Practice: Regular practice of dialogue improves people’s quality of work, morale, and reduces stress. Just as regular exercise improves our ability to navigate the physical world and its challenges, dialogue builds the “muscles” and endurance necessary to engage productively in civic life.

Current Projects:
Inter-logue (inter-generational/international): Consolations of Philosophy Dialogue Series
The Aqus Cafe Community Dialogue Series

Past Events, Dialogues and Lectures:

What can we do for you?

The Hutchins Dialogue Center can help you put dialogue in action. Please let us know how we can assist you in designing, implementing dialogue into your classroom, club, organization or any place/situation dialogue can improve communication and understanding! Please contact (707) 664-3300 for more information.

The Hutchins Dialogue Center has found success in practicing diversity and valuing relationship building in collaboration with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the Sonoma State University campus, inviting community members of all ages to our on-campus dialogues. One of our most exciting Interlogue Series has been responding to the question of “what is the good life?” using the Consolations of Philosophy dialogue series by Alain de Botton. Alain de Botton’s text The Consolations of Philosophy, as well as the videos from Britain’s Channel 4 television series Philosophy: A Guide To Happiness, are a wonderful textual tool for ongoing dialogues attended enthusiastically by people ranging in ages from their late teens to their late seventies.

These dialogues are open to both the campus and the community, and we are hoping to receive more lifelong learners (and SALLI’s international language learners) from the wider campus, and from the community at large each week, as well as increasing interest on campus with our student body, faculty and staff. By showing the videos, we make participation in the dialogue possible for those who cannot necessarily afford the book, or may not have the extra time afforded to others to prepare for our sessions.Therefore, each week we all view the video created by Britain's Channel 4 and conduct our discussion after. We create exposure to both the dialogue process and to philosophical theories available to those who might otherwise be denied that access owing to class, status, or circumstance. This particular project has uncovered the importance of diversity beyond race and ethnicity by creating a space and time for people of all ages to come together and share their values and life experience.

The Fall six-week Friday sessions begin on September 14, between 1:00-2:30 PM, in the SSU Multi-Purpose Room (MPR) in the Student Union. There are no charges for participants. Please join us in the GREAT conversation about timeless human issues and concerns!