World in Conversation

Student FAQ’s 

Student FAQ’s

Student Help Form

If you are a Dialogue Participant, be it a Penn State student, a global or community participant, please read through Student FAQ’s below, and if you need further assistance, use this form to reach us:

The Basics

We train facilitators to connect people across borders in ways that allow relationships to develop and collaborative critical thinking to occur. Last year alone World in Conversation trained over 100 student facilitators. We also host facilitated dialogues. On average, we host about 3,000 per year. This makes us the largest university-based cross-cultural dialogue program in the world.

Fun fact: Not only have our participants come from all of the colleges at University Park and most of the Commonwealth campuses, they also join us online from universities and local organizations around the world—in China, Iran, Afghanistan, Colombia, Brazil, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Yemen, Germany, Italy, and Poland.

Someone will greet you either in the physical room or in the Zoom meeting room and will ensure that your attendance is recorded for course credit. Trained facilitators will then lead the group in a dialogue. At the conclusion of the dialogue, you will be asked to complete a post-program evaluation.

Part of our mission is to explore controversial topics that people tend to avoid. Our view is that, if something is controversial, it’s probably because it is important. And if it is important, it actually needs to be talked about. So our conversations invite us to explore issues that will provoke thoughtful and meaningful engagement.

All we ask of participants is that they speak candidly—even if that means saying “I don’t really know yet.” or “I need more time to think about this.” or “This bothers me.” Whatever you think or feel creates the conversation.

Collaborative critical thinking is not possible if it happens without a diverse group of participants. “Diversity” includes race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender. However, it also includes age, class, ability, religious affiliation, education, position at the university, and many other factors that shape who we are. If YOU are not present, we are missing a key perspective.

You will gain insight into the perspectives and experiences of people who you usually don’t get to speak with. So whoever you are, you will be with people who you (probably) don’t spend much time with and whose perspectives you often don’t have an opportunity to hear or consider.

We’ve learned that people from all parts of the world tend to approach controversial issues with the same limitations—–most notably, the intention to win the argument and defeat the opponent. A dialogue facilitator learns how to encourage another approach: the intention to understand (though not necessarily accept) the opposing view, to learn from perspectives we’re more comfortable rejecting, and to uncover the core decency in the opposition. Facilitators are uniquely educated to stand in the intersection between groups and between divergent ideas, and in the ambiguous space where there is potential for outcomes people at odds have yet to discover.

Most conversations that we are part of happen without facilitators and are subject to many conversational “traps” that hinder people’s ability to listen and to be heard. However, in these dialogues there will be two people (facilitators) who are dedicated to managing the dynamics of the experience. Their job is to ensure that everyone has a chance to talk, that dominant voices are moderated, that less popular views are encouraged, and that themes are summarized so the participants know where they are in the dialogue. Facilitators act like “air traffic controllers” for conversation. They don’t determine the destination of the conversation, but they keep us from “crashing.” 🙂


You will receive an email invitation to register from World in Conversation.

Check your syllabus and see when your end date was to attend a conversation. If that end date has passed then you have missed the deadline to attend for your course. However, you can still fill out the form at or call 814-865-5692 as opportunities to attend may still be available.

Be patient! If you have not passed your deadline to attend then we will be posting more groups (approximately every 48 hours). Please check back regularly. You will have a chance to register.

It is in the reminder email from World in Conversation. This email will be sent to you AFTER you register for a dialogue. (You receive an immediate reminder and then another one 24 hours before the dialogue is scheduled.)

Check your Spam folder. If you still don’t see the reminder email there, submit your question at and we will respond as quickly as we can to assist you.

Attendance takes about 48 hours to update, so if you check the day after it may not have been updated yet.

No. Your class has a certain window of time to attend. The emails you receive from World in Conversation state the last day you are able to sign up for a dialogue. The earlier you sign up to attend, the more availability you will have to choose from to be able to attend a dialogue within the dates available for your class.

Etiquette for Online Dialogues

When you’re in the dialogue, it should feel no different than being in a Penn State class. Dress accordingly and keep in mind that while you are on screen, people will see whatever is visible behind and around you.

Be in a quiet well lit space. Once you turn on your microphone to speak, everyone will hear everything that you can hear in your environment. We require cameras to be turned on and for you to be visible in an upright position to minimize any distractions to the group.

Are you uncomfortable being visible in a classroom? If not, then consider this to be essentially the same experience.

Tech Support

It is in the reminder email from World in Conversation. This email will be sent to you AFTER you register for a dialogue. (You receive an immediate reminder and then another one 24 hours before the dialogue is scheduled.)

It is really simple. Once you receive the link from World in Conversation, you can click on it to test it out. You’ll be the only person in the call at that point, but you can test your camera and audio. You can also click on THIS LINK for a 50-second video showing you how to join a Zoom call.

Whatever it needs to be so that your audio and video do not freeze up during the dialogue.

Join back in as soon as you can. If you miss a significant portion of the dialogue, you will have to re-register for a new dialogue at a different time.

No. However, headphones with a microphone work best.