Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Diversity and Inclusion

Inaugural Sustained Dialogue Wrap-Up


Last month, five Feinberg student groups wrapped up the pilot sustained dialogue program. The groups are now planning how they will implement the ideas that emerged from their dialogues. Two groups allowed their topic to emerge from their monthly discussions, while the others focused on racial climate/privilege, religion and mental health. There is a tentative plan for the groups to share their ideas with the Feinberg community.

An example of the students’ sustained dialogues can be seen through one group’s final project. Led by co-moderators Elsy Compres, a second-year medical student, and Sean Jenvay, a third-year medical student, the group focused on “the masks we wear.” Medical school is a space where intelligent people are thrown together in a highly competitive environment. Everyone knows that at different times medical school is difficult for everyone in different ways, and yet everyone feels compelled to present an image of perfection. The group discussed what would happen if everyone allowed themselves to be more vulnerable, more human. The images above are examples of how several members articulated their vulnerability to encourage others to do the same in the context that being vulnerable makes us strong. More images from The Masks We Wear group’s project and the projects of the other groups will be featured at various locations around campus in the fall.

"Sustained dialogue provides a way for students — or anyone — to communicate honestly and productively, even though they may have vastly different perspectives, or the topics they discuss may be contentious or personal,” said participant Sean Jenvay, a third-year medical student. “For our group, that meant starting a conversation between strangers about the struggles and sides of ourselves we try to hide, and why we try to hide them. Our dialogue gave us insight not just to our own identities, but to the larger forces in our campus and professional cultures that shape us. Now we hope to use that insight to make change!"