To complete this training module, please watch the video below from Associate Director of the Center for Public Deliberation, Dr. Katie Knobloch and student associates from the CPD. In this video, Dr. Knobloch and our students explain how you can create a welcoming space for conversation while also using inclusive language and avoiding assumptions about your participants.


A full script of the video is available here.

After you have finished watching the video, you can complete the following activity if you find it helpful.

On your own, think about how you identify according to the following social group identities. For example, if someone asked you what race you identified with or what your first language is, how would you respond? This isn’t an attempt to box you into any of those categories but an opportunity to think about your own identities before moving onto the next section.

-Education Level
-Race and Ethnicity
-First Language
-Physical, Emotional, and/or Developmental Ability
-Political Affiliation
-Sexual Orientation
-Socio-Economic Class or Income Level

Now, thinking about those social group identities, spend some time reflecting on the following questions:

What identity do you think about the most? Why?
What identity do you think about the least? Why?
Which identity has the biggest impact on how others perceive you? Why?
What assumptions do others make about your identities that frustrate you?
How do these identities influence the ways that you engage in conversations or your ability to communicate with others?

If possible, find a partner to talk through these issues with. This might be someone at home or someone you call on the phone. The goal of these conversations is to get you comfortable talking about your own identities and the identities of others and to reflect on the ways these identities influence different people in different ways.

Finally, spend a little time thinking about these identities in relation to the communities you hope to connect with. Are there any identities that might have a significant impact on your participants’ experiences? Are there any identities, such as age, first language, or ability that you’ll need to consider in order to ensure that your participants can fully engage in the conversation? How can you make sure that you maintain respect during these conversations and avoid making assumptions about others?
Remember, these conversations get easier with practice, and understanding our differences will allow us to make decisions that better meet the needs of our entire community.