Department of Applied Psychology

Group Relations Conference

Sexual Identity: Authorization and Leadership in a World of Differences

A group relations conference in the Working with Differences series

PLEASE NOTE: This conference has been cancelled for 2012 and is no longer accepting applications.

MARCH 2 - 4, 2012 -

New York University
Kimball Hall
246 Greene Street
New York, NY 10003


Dear Prospective Member,

Do you belong to, own, manage, or work for an organization? Do the members and/or staff of your organization come from different backgrounds; different cultures, races, sexualities, ethnicities, or social classes? How aware are you and/or your team of how your differences impact your everyday work? I invite you to join my staff and me in forming a temporary experiential educational institution, designed to study sexual identity, authorization and leadership in a world of differences.

The goal of this conference is to consider and challenge ideas, attitudes, and feelings about working within and across social identity differences. Specifically, the focus this year is on sexual identity in the broader community and racial, ethnic, and cultural differences within the lesbian, gay, and bisexual community. While authority and power differences affect the lives of transgendered individuals, the focus in this conference is not on gender identity but rather on sexual orientation, without the exclusion of the transgender population.

In this conference we will learn from our experiences as they occur. There will be no paper presentations. We will create a temporary institution with a director, associate director, administrators, team leaders and a consultant staff, all working to provide opportunities for those who participate as members to learn through experience. This experiential model of learning is adapted from the Tavistock tradition, which is based on systems and psychodynamic theory. We will explore roles, boundaries, authority structures, tasks and the conscious and unconscious process related to sexual identity in groups and organizational life.

The centerpiece of the NYU conference is the Community Event (also called the World Event) designed to study intergroup, group, and organizational dynamics. Participants form groups that work collaboratively and competitively towards the task. What roles of leadership and followership are taken and by whom? How are different sexual identity groups worked with?

Those who participate in this conference will learn through experience how stereotypes, hidden assumptions, and feelings about sexual identity differences influence interactions and decisions and leadership and authority in organizational life. Through the microcosm of the conference experience participants will learn about roles they take up in groups and develop a deeper understanding of interpersonal and group dynamics, especially those related to sexual identity, race, ethnicity, and culture. Awareness and knowledge about the dynamic processes involved when working with these differences will increase skill sets of leadership, management, and teamwork for those who attend.

The conference will offer an opportunity to study this complex and sometimes difficult topic in an environment conducive to exploration without the pressure to make concrete decisions.


Mary B. McRae

Director, NYU Conference Series on Differences, 2012