Intergroup Relations

Research Overview

IGR conducts research to assess outcomes of its programming and the processes through which those outcomes take place. Through IGR, students are provided with the opportunity to explore and develop their own research questions, data collection methods, and design. Using qualitative methods, quantitative survey research, content analysis of student papers, cross-sectional and longitudinal studies, and intensive interviews, faculty, staff, graduate students, and undergraduate researchers have published peer-reviewed journal articles, monographs, and doctoral dissertations inspired by IGR’s work.

We aim to answer questions about what students gain short-term and long-term by participating in intergroup dialogue, and how intergroup dialogue pedagogy influences these outcomes.

 A full list of research can be viewed on the IGR Publications page.

Get involved in IGR Research!

IGR encourages undergraduate and graduate students to become involved in the growing and important field of intergroup dialogue research. There are multiple ways in which students can engage in this exciting field of study. Students work on research with staff and faculty members, they come through the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP), and they can propose their own projects in their areas of interest related to intergroup dialogue and social justice pedagogy.

Undergraduate and Graduate students have many opportunities to get involved in IGR research projects. Students can examine the projects below to see what kind of research is going on and contact the staff/faculty conducting the projects. Students can also initiate their own research projects with support from staff/faculty.

Take a look at our past projects here and if you have an idea, contact us at to get involved!

IGR employs a collaborative, interdisciplinary model of research, whereby staff, faculty and students from multiple disciplines work together to examine research questions related to intergroup dialogue. Furthermore, student engagement in research is a priority for IGR, and students are provided with the opportunity to explore and develop their own research questions, data collection methods, and design. IGR is currently collaborating with other universities nationally to document common and unique effects of intergroup dialogues on different campuses.


Multi-University Project

"A Multi-University Evaluation of the Educational Effects of Intergroup Dialogues" Patricia Gurin, University of Michigan; Biren (Ratnesh) Nagda, University of Washington; and Ximena Zuniga, University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Quantitative (pre- post- and post post-surveys) & Qualitative (papers, videotapes and individual interviews); Funded by W.T. Grant and Ford Foundations; IRB approved through 2010.

The project evaluates effects of race and gender intergroup dialogue courses at nine universities. Three sets of student outcomes, emphasized in the Michigan affirmative action cases, are measured: social identities; intergroup communication skills/motivation; commitment to intergroup understanding/ collaboration.

The Multi-University Intergroup Dialogue Research Project Guidebook contains information about the implementation of the project.

Difficult Dialogues

Pat Gurin, Kelly Maxwell, Charles Behling, Adrienne Dessel, & Susan King Religious Diversity in the Public University: Intergroup Dialogues on Religion Qualitative (interviews); Funded by Ford Foundation; Timeline: Oct. 1, 2008 through Sept. 30th, 2010; IRB approved.

This project will evaluate the dialogues on religions to determine how previous course work in religion impacts the dialogue experience, if at all.

Explorations of White Racial Identity

Kelly Maxwell and Mark Chesler; Qualitative (papers pre and post). IRB approved. The purposes of this research project are to explore students' views of issues related to white racial identity and to assess the effectiveness of the White Racial Identity Dialogue.

A Qualitative Analysis of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Student Participation in Intergroup Dialogue

Adrienne Dessel and Michael Woodford (U of M School of Social Work); Post dialogue papers from LGB/H dialogues. IRB approved.

The purpose of this research project is to explore the following questions: Why do Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual students take dialogue courses and why they might not take dialogue courses, what are the outcomes for them, what went well and might have not gone well for them, and what are the particular processes/activities within the dialogue courses that facilitated these outcomes.

Heterosexual student participation in Sexual Orientation Dialogues

Adrienne Dessel, Michael Woodford (U of M School of Social Work), Robbie Routenberg, Duane Breijak (U of M School of Social Work)

This project examines heterosexual student experiences and outcomes following participation in sexual orientation dialogues. Analysis of final student papers and qualitative interviews. 

Common Ground Program Evaluation

Taryn Petryk and Common Ground Staff
1. Evaluation of Common Ground Workshops; Pre/Post Quantitative surveys; measures the level of content knowledge (before and after workshop), personal application of workshop, the environment of the workshop, effectiveness of facilitators and benefits of workshop.
2. Facilitator Development; Pre/Post Qualitative surveys; measures social justice knowledge, confidence in facilitation, self-awareness, preparedness to facilitate and connectedness to facilitator community.
3. Growing Allies retreat; Mixed Method, Longitudinal; Examines community, classroom and ally involvement.

Global Scholars Program Assessment and Evaluation

(Team: Jennifer Yim, Melissa Sanders [team captain], Liwen Chen, Trishya Gandhi, Philip Cheng). Evaluation and assessment of International dialogues and global understanding; IRB in process. Quantitative survey and qualitative analysis of written assignments.

Evaluation of Intergroup Training and Practicum 310/311

Adrienne Dessel, Monita Thompson and Johanna Masse

Pre and Post quantitative surveys. Funded by the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT).

The purpose of this study is to evaluate the learning processes and learning outcomes for student peer facilitators who train in intergroup dialogue facilitation, and who then go on to a practicum facilitating intergroup dialogue courses. More specifically, we aim to understand if students who are trained in a peer facilitation model achieve four intended learning goals, as well as what other learning they may experience. We will examine the different processes and outcomes for the training and practicum course. Finally, we will compare this learning to that in other related peer facilitation courses.

Examining the impact of social identities in the facilitation process

Mark Chesler and Kelly Maxwell; qualitative: interviews; IRB approved.

The purpose of this research is to examine how trained peers (those who have been through training and/or the facilitation process) experience the impact of their race and gender identities on the facilitation process. Individual interviews were conducted by two undergraduate peer facilitators and supervised by Mark. Subsequent analysis was conducted by the two students as well as by Mark and Kelly for an upcoming book chapter.

A Qualitative Study of an Arab/Jewish Dialogue Course

Adrienne Dessel and Noor Ali.

This study will examine the processes and outcomes of an Arab/Jewish intergroup dialogue course.  Individual interviews and final paper analysis will be conducted using NVivo software.  The outcomes of this research and resulting publication will inform our understanding of the experiences of the course participants and how dialogue pedagogy can be used to address campus conflict. 

Research Request Approval Form: 

For researchers who would like to collect data on IGR courses and activities IGR Research Request Form

Use of IGR Data for Research Purposes: For researchers who would like to work collaboratively with IGR faculty/staff

Use of IGR Data for Research Purposes Agreement Form