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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.
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.
But there is little evidence~ that this strategy, in and of itself, is adequate.
In some cases, the one-time workshop, course, or learning module that focuses on sources of conflict or on racial or ethnic differences can even reinforce negative predispositions.
Seeking to change individuals without dealing with these influences, or without engaging the specific issues that shape intergroup relations, is often futile.
Sources of prejudice and discrimination are often rooted in particular historical and social contexts, and are shaped by institutional structures and practices.Thus, strategies to improve race relations need to include both highly focused activities and efforts to ensure that positive intergroup relations are pursued throughout the organization involved.Efforts to improve intergroup relations often overstate differences among and within racial and ethnic groups, and neglect beliefs and values that are shared across racial and ethnic “lines.” The search for generalizations that would promote sensitivity to differences and encourage positive responses to those differences often leads to oversimplification.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.They are also meant to focus discussion and research on the characteristics of program effectiveness. Those readers who are seeking related research will find much of what they are looking for in the full volume: W. Most of us are not as competent as we need to be in our interactions with people we perceive to be culturally different.Second, prejudice and discrimination are socially influenced.Thus, altering our own behavior may require that we enlist the support of others.The best-documented strategy for improving racial and ethnic relations involves the creation of opportunities for positive equalstatus interaction among people from different groups.These strategies are most effective when they organize cooperative activities so as to ensure that people from different backgrounds can contribute equally to the task involved.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.