The Program on Intergroup Relations (IGR) was founded at a time of heightened racial and ethnic tensions at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor campus in 1988. It was originally conceptualized as an academic initiative fully integrated with student life. IGR was supported by Presidential Undergraduate Initiative funds awarded to the Pilot Program, a living-learning program for first-year students, and the Program on Conflict Management Alternatives, a research development center of the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.
IGR's initial philosophy was to advance student understanding of and respect for diversity and to augment student skills in the area of intergroup relations and managing conflict between social identity groups. The central goal of the program was, and still is, for students to be engaged proactively to learn about the complexities of living in a multicultural society.
In 1989, the program established intergroup dialogue as its signature focus and contribution to the University undergraduate community. In 1994, IGR was instituted as a unit in the Division of Student Affairs and began collaboration with the Departments of Sociology, Psychology, and American Culture to offer intergroup dialogue academic courses.
In 1999, IGR was further institutionalized and now operates as a unit in both Student Life (formerly the Division of Student Affairs) and the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. Though this partnership, the program offers a variety of intergroup dialogues as well as courses on intergroup relations and social justice, co-curricular programs, and consultation services.
IGR was chosen as a recipient of the Fourth Annual Distinguished Diversity Leaders Award (2012). IGR celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2013 with an alumni reunion weekend and a campus-wide symposium on engaged pedagogies.