Circular Dialogue Benches Support Respectful Co-Creational Learning

April 11, 2023

Kristi Williams

In a collaboration between Arts Alive SDSU and the Office for Restorative Practices, School of Art and Design MFA student Kristi Williams has installed her thesis project, Circular Dialogue Benches, outside the Chinese Cultural Center in the College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts. 

Williams found her inspiration in Daniel Stacy’s Community Resources in Criminal Justice course. 

“Throughout the course, my peers majoring in Criminal Justice and I have been learning about the recent renaissance in First Nation-pedagogical Circular Dialogues. Conversations conducted in circles are a collective-focused learning tool that support mutually respectful, emotional, experiential, and co-creational learning,” said Williams.

“It is a leading practice in Restorative Justice for its efficacy in conflict resolution, recovery, personal, and collective growth.”

Bench installation diagram
Williams looks forward to enhancing the space for conversation with her thesis project.

“A space dedicated to circular dialogue puts SDSU’s statement of diversity, equity, and inclusion in action and its’ outdoor location demonstrates how the classroom environments we create can permeate,” said Williams. “It is my belief that by building something tangible, I could translate SDSU’s research and mission into a part of everyday campus life.”

The international student completed her undergraduate degree in Australia before coming to study at SDSU. Williams is set to graduate in May with her MFA in Furniture Design and Woodworking. She currently works within the School of Art and Design as a Graduate teaching Assistant and Instructor on record. 

Williams speaks confidently of the work she has completed and the work the project has entailed. “One month before my looming deadline, what this project means to me is the challenging band-sawing of curves, complex cutting of angled joinery, and trying to remember to focus on creating comfort and softness to the touch,” said Williams. “It means splinters and wood chips in all of my pockets, and trying to understand my physical strengths, and my limitations! It means my project and I getting stuck in elevators, and friends coming when they hear us thud.”

The Circular Dialogue Benches installation is set to open in the Chinese Cultural Center on April 17, 2023.