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People with power and authority send messages more by their deeds than by their words.Those who are asked to engage in learning activities meant to improve intergroup relations will usually want to know what those who have put them into the situation have done and are doing about the lessons they are being asked to learn.The design principles developed by the CODA panel are meant to provide guidelines for action to those selecting or developing strategies to improve intergroup relations. No effort has been made to summarize the research that supports these principles in the brief discussion that follows each of them. First, when strategies meant to improve intergroup relations do not specifically include lessons about how to act in accordance with new awareness and knowledge, they are likely to be ineffective in changing relationships.
First, the level of commitment to the goal will vary within the school, program, or organization.
Second, the expertise needed to adequately integrate experiences that promote positive intergroup relations is scarce.
Second, prejudice and discrimination are socially influenced.
Thus, altering our own behavior may require that we enlist the support of others.
There are good reasons to start teaching the importance of and strategies for positive intergroup relations when children are young. As children mature, they become more conscious of racial and ethnic differences, and the many sources of prejudice and discrimination they experience can influence them in negative ways.
Lessons learned at an early age or at the time a person becomes a member of an organization may not stick even though they do make later lessons related to prejudice and discrimination easier to teach and learn.
However, a key point to keep in mind in designing programs and practices is that power differences, real or imagined, are often at the heart of intergroup tensions and have to be dealt with if behaviors are to change in significant ways.
Institutional and contextual forces that might be considered in the development and implementation of a strategy for improving intergroup relations include structures and practices—such as tracking, assessment practices, or selection processes—and beliefs, stereotypes, and stories that have become part of the local lore.
Thus, strategies involving cooperative interdependence among persons of different races and ethnic groups should be carefully structured to ensure that all participants are encouraged to make useful and valued contributions to the group.
Note, however, that when strategies involving competition among groups are used to encourage cooperation, situations should be avoided in which racially or ethnically identifiable groups compete against one another.