Tuck Launches Crucial Conversations Project

Contributing to the Dartmouth Dialogues project, Tuck Crucial Conversations will promote the school’s mission to develop wise, decisive leaders by helping community members improve their ability to navigate and lead difficult conversations.

Co-creating a culture of respectful dialogue, discussion, and debate has long been a priority at Tuck with curricular offerings and co-curricular innovations that center curiosity, embrace discomfort, and develop self-awareness.

Faculty and staff have built a foundation through programs and engagements such as TuckGO, Tuck Compass, Tuck’s six Centers, the Leadership Development Program, and the Tuck Initiative on Workplace Inclusion. This dedication to respectful dialogue and constructive disagreement as a part of learning and development is one factor that contributes to the success of not only Tuck’s personal, connected, and transformative programs, but to the entire community.

In this spirit, Tuck today announces the launch of the Crucial Conversations Project which will promote the school’s mission to develop wise, decisive leaders by helping community members improve their ability to navigate and lead difficult conversations. As a part of the Dartmouth Dialogues project, Tuck’s Crucial Conversations Project will contribute to one of President Sian Leah Beilock’s main priorities: facilitating conversations and skills that bridge political and personal divides.

On February 6, Tuck will host Dartmouth President Sian Beilock for a dynamic discussion focused on challenges impacting leaders across higher education.

In many ways, the Crucial Conversations Project builds on work Tuck has done for years. Inspired by Dean Matthew Slaughter and Professor Ella Bell’s popular Tuck Launch orientation session, the series encapsulates the spirited discussions our path-breaking faculty encourage daily in the classroom as well as the many imperative conversations Tuck has hosted over the years. This past September, for example, Tuck hosted a discussion in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on affirmative action, which served as the first Crucial Conversations roundtable. A foundational resource that will guide the project’s work is Tuck’s Ground Rules for Navigating Crucial Conversations, a tool the community can lean on for setting the tone and intention of a conversation, and to establish a baseline atmosphere of empathy and respect.

The Crucial Conversations Project will feature a menu of opportunities for engagement, including:

  • Crucial Conversations Speaker Series
    Tuck will host a speaker or moderated discussion focusing on current events, “hot” topics, and timely issues. The goal is to bring dynamic issues to the forefront and create opportunities to learn through observation and model how to construct an opinion, critique an idea, and navigate difficult topics.

    The first speaker, and the marquee winter term event for the Crucial Conversations Project, will be on Tuesday, February 6 and feature a discussion with President Beilock in Cook Auditorium at 6:30 p.m. Moderated by Professor Wheelan, the dynamic discussion will focus on challenges impacting leaders across higher education, including freedom of speech on campus and communication during times of crisis. Please register here
  • Intercultural Leadership Seminar
    In-person experience to expand students’ leadership toolkit with inclusive practices and a robust skillset around intercultural competency and how to foster inclusive and dynamic work environments.  
  • Green Table Talks
    Modeled after the popular Red Table Talk series on Facebook Watch and introduced to the Tuck community by the Black Students Association at Tuck (BSAT), these events will feature a panel format where community members will engage with and discuss a relevant or timely issue.
  • Crucial Conversations Dinners
    These small group dinners bring students together with faculty, guest speakers, or subject matter experts for a deep dive into a hot topic. They have been a popular student-led experience since being introduced by the DEI co-chairs in 2017.
  • Skill Building Workshops
    Similar to the Dartmouth Dialogues goal of providing students, staff, and faculty with skills to promote collaborative dialogue, these workshops will focus on the “soft skills” that augment emotional intelligence such as communication skills, interpersonal skills, managing people, and organizational behavior.

The Crucial Conversations Project is led by Dia Draper, assistant dean for diversity, equity, and inclusion; Charles Wheelan, lecturer, adjunct professor, and author of Naked Statistics; and Vincent Mack, director of intercultural leadership and student life. It is also made possible through members of the Crucial Conversations student working group, including Lauren Adamson T’24, Will Burroughs T’25, AJ Kumar T’24, Gabriela Lichtenberger, Roxo Loureiro T’24, Tout Lin T’25, Ben Marshall T’24, Ryann Miguel T’25, Ben Romero T'24, Aisha Ruiz Tyler T’25, and Niklas Wu T’24.