RealTalk @ MIT

A community-based civic space to have nuanced and authentic dialogue among students, faculty, and staff and create an opportunity for the MIT community to constructively shape its culture based on the Institute’s values. The vision for this program is to build a communication infrastructure within MIT that will help us harness the power of small group facilitated conversations as a vehicle for informing decisions that improve the quality of life inside the Institute.


The MIT Values Statement recognizes that values are lived, aspirational, and at times in tension. For MIT to live into these values, we require ongoing opportunities for all members of the community to speak and be heard. Real Talk@MIT is a space for our community to do this through nuanced and authentic dialogue. The process of facilitated conversations will help surface: What needs to be celebrated? What causes friction? What needs to change? 

Real Talk@MIT aims to introduce a new type of communication infrastructure to the MIT community that facilitates open, nuanced dialogue as well as listening and learning across different parts of the community. Leveraging the Real Talk process and technology that the MIT Center for Constructive Communication (CCC) has developed, participating communities across the Institute are empowered to organize conversations across the full diversity of their population, identify patterns of what people share across these conversations, and channel these voices to influence decision-making more grounded and direct than ever before. 


Through participation in small, virtual or in-person, facilitated dialogues that will be recorded, community members will have the opportunity to share their diverse life experiences at MIT, hear the stories of others, and reflect on the connections, tensions, and commonalities that emerge. A team of MIT students, staff, and faculty will identify themes and patterns that emerge from conversation recordings and share findings back to the entire MIT community. 

Recorded conversations are stored in a private conversation collection that will be stewarded by a designated group at each participating DLC in collaboration with CCC and governed by data access policies by which each group of conversation participants controls the visibility of their transcripts.


Any student, staff, or faculty group or organization can join the effort.  All are welcome to join! The underlying social dialogue network platform that powers RealTalk@MIT is being developed by the MIT Center for Constructive Communication in cooperation with its nonprofit collaborator Cortico.


Real Talk@MIT is being led by CCC with support from the MIT Values Committee and the Office of the Provost. CCC developed its underlying social dialogue network platform in cooperation with its nonprofit collaborator Cortico.

In spring 2022, the Real Talk@MIT team at CCC launched a pilot effort with five departments, labs, centers, and other units across the Institute: the Sloan School of Management, the Department of Aeronautics & Astronautics, the Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP), the Media Lab, and the Undergraduate Association. Having built the capacity and the skills during the pilot initiative, the MIT Sloan Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and the DEI Working Group at the MIT Media Lab are scaling the effort to invite more members of their communities into facilitated conversations.

Real Talk@MIT empowers departments, labs, centers, and other groups across MIT to 1) celebrate areas of alignment and reinforce specific practices; 2) diagnose areas of divergence between and prioritize action; and 3) commit to listening and being held accountable by the community.