Complex Conversations in Academia

The Complex Conversations video monologues are thought-provoking professional ethics case studies for graduate students and Teaching Assistants (TAs) to consider and discuss.  These are complex in the sense that they pose multi-layered ethical dilemmas with no easy answers, and they are meant to foster conversations that might otherwise be avoided.  

These monologues address a wide range of topics, including the following:

  • Responding to students who appear to be overwhelmed or at-risk 
  • Responding to misconduct in relation to students, peers, and advisors/mentors
  • Considering differences of a linguistic, ethnic, racial, social, gender/sexual, and/or religious nature in relation to teaching and learning
  • Accommodating students with various learning differences and documented disabilities
  • Negotiating professional roles and responsibilities
  • Establishing and maintaining productive relationships within academia 

The videos themselves do not offer sample responses to these topics.  However, the accompanying resource packet offers a list of possible ways to handle each situation, recommendations and resources that TAs can provide to students and colleagues, advice for what not to do, and questions to prompt further discussion.  We strongly suggest that you use the videos and the resource packet in tandem.

We’d like to emphasize that the situations discussed in each video are fictionalized accounts, and that the people providing the monologues are actors.  These accounts may utilize and/or require the examination of stereotypes in order to engage graduate students meaningfully, if difficult, conversations.  While these scenarios may seem exaggerated, they are purposefully provocative in order to call attention to ethical professional practices and broader campus policies and procedures.  While general principles are worth exploring, and campus policies are certainly worth knowing, we believe it is important to remember that the particularities and complexities that inform any real-world situation often deserve to take precedent and may require actions beyond what is presented in this resource guide.

Complex Conversations Resource Guide (PDF)