Housed within the SFU’s Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue, each Semester in Dalogue offers a unique experience that bridges the classroom with the community and creates space for students to reflect on what they are doing and why it matters.

Our Approach

Our approach to learning helps students to better define their personal and professional goals while gaining effective skills in areas such as communications and group work. Student feedback in a recent semester’s course evaluations describe the program as “life-changing”, “a unique opportunity” and their “best educational experience ever.”

The Semester in Dialogue emphasizes three major educational approaches: dialogue-based communication, experiential education and community engagement.

1. Dialogue-based communication

Dialogue involves deep listening and learning to discover meaning among diverse participants. Dialogue differs from the adversarial, position-based debates that typically characterize discussion about complex issues. Dialogue-based processes aim to build deep relationships through free expression of views and respectful exploration of differences. In a university setting, this means that students are better able to communicate outside their own academic disciplines because they are conscious and respectful of the different reference points that come within a field of study.

2. Experiential education

Experiential education emphasizes learning through doing. Students apply skills in the real world, reflect on the results and use this learning to provide context for normally abstract theories. Students frequently submit written commentary for newspapers, magazines and blogs, go on field trips to varied locations such as urban farms and healthcare providers, and bridge course concepts with their personal lives through written reflections.

3. Community engagement

According to the SFU vision, community engagement includes developing partnerships to “enhance the social, economic, environmental and cultural well-being of communities” through “respectful and mutually beneficial community relationships.” The Semester in Dialogue engages the community in a variety of ways, including partnering with community organizations on projects, convening community dialogue-archives to address pressing issues and hosting community thought leaders in the classroom.

Our Impact


Unique courses
since 2001


Alumni graduated from
Semester in Dialolgue


Public dialogues




Thought leaders participated
in Semester in Dialogue

The Semester in Dialogue has had transformative impacts on its students, while creating rich partnerships with the wider community.

Extensive student feedback indicates that Semester in Dialogue alumni leave the program with new understandings of leadership, better communication skills and a renewed sense of who they want to be in the world. Through hosting public dialogues, visiting with thought leaders and leading projects, students develop networks of contacts and discover new interests and opportunities.

Regular community involvement is a defining characteristic of the Semester in Dialogue. Guest instructors frequently come from outside the university to provide access to a range of perspectives. Ongoing partnerships help to connect student work with tangible community needs, such as the Semester at CityStudio program, which brings together students from diverse backgrounds to collaborate with The City of Vancouver on demonstration projects.