RACE: Are We So Different?

The Talking Circle

Keep the conversation on RACE going. Share your own thoughts and stories, and listen to those of others.

Talking Circles are facilitated discussions for groups of 20 or less based on Native American traditions in which all participants are invited to reflect on their experiences in learning about and experiencing race as a factor in their lives and communities. Designed for business, community and government groups, and schools, the RACE Talking Circles are a valuable, non-confrontational way to explore and foster diversity, as well as to learn a valuable communication technique.

  • Individuals can explore issues of race and discrimination on their own terms, without being put on the defensive.
  • Real-world examples of how race has affected our history and shapes our lives today allow you and your staff to build empathy and understanding for differences and variations.
  • Managing diversity is a strategic priority and a competitive necessity for many organizations.
  • Creating a common experience exploring issues of race can create a more comfortable and supportive work environment: costs associated with excessive turnover and absenteeism can be reduced, problem-solving and innovation are stimulated, and tolerance for individuality is enhanced.
  • Exploring issues of diversity in a way that makes all individuals feel involved can help to reduce exposure for employee complaints and lawsuits

The Talking Circle Experience
The Science Museum of Minnesota offers a private room for groups visiting RACE to continue the learning opportunity afforded by the exhibit experience. Located next to the exhibit, the space will be available to groups from schools, corporations, government, non-profits, faith organizations, and ethnic and civic communities. Other rooms, including food and beverage service, are also available for Talking Circles. Discussions will be under the direction of trained facilitators.

The museum will rely on the Talking Circle process developed by the Minnesota Department of Corrections and taken from Native American traditions. The technique allows everyone to speak and to listen in a safe and respectful setting. Participants sit in a circle with no tables; the facilitator starts the discussion with the "Talking Piece;" only the participant holding it can speak as it is passed from one person to the next in the circle. The museum will post guidelines for discussions that support a shared commitment to this process. The facilitator can ask the group to switch to a more free-flowing discussion at the facilitator's discretion and the group's consensus.

Reserve Your Space
Two different experiences are available, depending on your time. We do recommend that Talking Circles be scheduled after you and your group have had a chance to explore the RACE exhibit.

Talking Circle Experience (2 hours): An in-depth exposure to issues raised by the RACE exhibit for adult groups of up to 20. Facilitated by a trained Circle Keeper, the Circle Experience is an opportunity to learn and to listen to experiences from one's peers to gain a better understanding of our shared histories and stories of racial issues.

Talking Circle Introduction (1 hour): A trained Circle Keeper will present the structure of Circles, and provide an opportunity to discuss an issue related to race. This shorter program is designed to give attendees familiarity with the Talking Circle concept for use within their own organizations.

On weekdays, the room can regularly be reserved for a discussion between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. (on Thursday until 9 p.m.); on Saturday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Morning sessions may also be available closer to the event date.

Talking Circles are also available at a special reduced rate for school groups with students. For more information, visit the RACE Educators page.

Fees for either the Talking Circle Introduction or the full Talking Circle Experience are $450 for for-profit organizations, and $300 for non-profits and civic and public organizations; these fees include room rental fee for the Talking Circle Room adjacent to the exhibit and payment for one facilitator. Availability and fees for other rooms, additional facilitators, food and beverage are available upon request.

To reserve your spot, call the museum's Facility Sales office at (651) 221-2550.

Download the RACE Talking Circle brief (PDF | 50 KB)


Historically, the concept of race was imported into biology from social practice. - Richard Lewontin, evolutionary biologist

www.understandingRACE.org - official website of the RACE: Are We So Different? project
Science Museum of Minnesota Home Visit Learn Schools Science Support Us About Us