Our CommonGround program is one way that student organizations, residence halls, Greek life, academic courses, and other campus communities can request programs that raise awareness about social identities (race, gender, socioeconomic status, etc.), prejudice, stereotyping, power, privilege, and oppression. Facilitated and coordinated by trained U-M undergraduate and graduate students, these interactive workshops help promote social identity development and enhance group dynamics, while building a community of social justice advocates on campus.
Workshops are designed around a 1.5 to 3 hour time frame and are customized to your group's needs. If you don't see a topic that interests you, please let us know and we can work with you to explore various opportunities. We request that all workshops be requested three weeks prior to the event.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: How do I request a CommonGround workshop?
We have a request form that can be found here: http://igr.umich.edu/content/request-workshop. Once you fill out this form, a notice will be sent to our office and we will contact you about the status of your request.
Please be sure to read our Workshop Guidelines (in the request form) and Request Process Updates before submitting a request.
Q: What is CommonGround’s procedure for workshop requests?
After we receive a request, a workshop manager (a student staff member) will be assigned to your workshop. The workshop manager will reach out to set up an intake meeting with the requester to assess their needs and goals.
Following the intake meeting, the workshop manager will find workshop facilitators who are available to do the workshop. Together, the workshop manager and facilitators will have a meeting to create the agenda and curriculum for the workshop. Finally, the facilitators will lead the workshop and facilitate the activities decided upon. After the workshop, CommonGround will follow up with the requester and send them the workshop evaluations collected.
Q: What does a CommonGround workshop look like?
No two CommonGround workshops look exactly alike! Here at CommonGround, we want to be sure we are meeting your group’s individual needs and goals. During our intake meeting, we will assess what the group most wants to accomplish, and then we will decide on specific activities accordingly. While there is no “script” for a workshop, CommonGround activities address themes of communicating across difference social identities (race, gender, socioeconomic status, etc), how power and privilege function within a group dynamic, and how to effectively navigate social identity tensions.
Q. What topics does a CommonGround workshop cover?
CommonGround workshops are designed to cover a variety of social identity topics and can be tailored to fit the needs of your community. These topics generally fall under the following categories and if you have thoughts on combining topics or including others not listed, you will have an opportunity to discuss these possibilities with a Workshop Manager after submitting your request.
Entering Communities: Participants are engaged in activities designed to encourage thinking around norms and expectations in their own communities and those that exist in others. Dialogues in this category generally focus on how our presence may impact different communities and are oriented towards group that do 'helping' or service oriented work.
Social Identity 101: Designed to be an introduction to social identity and its influence up on us, participants are introduced to social identity categories and begin exploration into the social identities that they hold.
Communicating Across Identities: Slightly more advanced than Social Identity 101, this module is focused on acknowledging the role of social identity within group dynamics. Participants engage in thinking and skill building around bringing identity into conversations and addressing conflicts related to social identity.
Allyhood: With the understanding that some identities are socially prioritized over others, consciously or not, this module seeks to engage participants in thinking about and practicing on how to operate in solidarity with those identities that do not receive preference.
Power and Oppression in Groups: Deepening consideration of social identity and its influences, participants spend time not only understanding how to mitigate and resolve situations that may be damaging, but also how group dynamics may create preference for some identities over others as well as engaging in thinking on how to reduce these effects.
"American Dream": This activity is specially designed to understand how various social identities are affected on a societal level in our country and challenge ideas of absolute social equality and ability to attain success in our current societal structure.
Social Justice Journey: This module is geared towards groups that have more experience in social justice work. Participants are prompted in high levels of thinking on their own identities, communicating across identities, understanding power and oppression, and how they engage with these topics with others who are at differing levels of understanding social justice complexity.
Q: How long is a Common Ground workshop?
Workshops are typically 1.5 to 3 hours long. While we are able to be somewhat flexible with time, please note that in order to be most effective, our workshops and activities require at least an hour and a half.
Q: What is the size of a CommonGround workshop?
In order to create a more effective learning environment and use engaging activities (small and large group discussions, interactive exercises, simulations, etc.), our workshops work best with 8-80 participants. Please reach out to us (IGRCommonGround@umich.edu) if you would like to request a workshop for a group outside of this size range, and we can discuss if this is feasible.
For larger workshops: We have more facilitators at larger workshops and often need a second/breakout room to split the participants into smaller groups.
For smaller workshops: If there are very few participants at a workshop (fewer than 8), the facilittors will decide if it is still possible to lead the workshop.
Q: I work with a group of discussion leaders/student advisors/peer educators/etc. who would like to develop their facilitation skills. Can I request a CommonGround workshop to train them?
Unfortunately, at this time, CommonGround cannot offer "train-the-trainer" workshops. We would love to lead a workshop for your student leaders/advisors/educators, but we cannot train them in facilitation skills.
Q: Can I request a CommonGround workshop for staff, faculty, or other non-students?
CommonGround is a student-run program for students. We can only facilitate workshops for U-M students. If you are interested in working with IGR for a session/workshop/training for non-students, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: How do I know if a Common Ground workshop is right for me?
A Common Ground workshop may be right for you if:
- You have noticed tension or conflict within your group due to social identities such as race, gender, socioeconomic status, etc.
- Your group’s mission encourages awareness surrounding social identities, power, privilege, and oppression
- You are simply curious to know more about how social identities, privilege, and oppression function within group dynamics
- Though our workshops often enhance these skills, Common Ground does not directly cover workshops on leadership, team building or conflict resolution.
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Direct any questions towards -- IGRCommonGround@umich.edu