Skip to Content
Skip to Navigation


Biren (Ratnesh) Nagda

PhD, University of Michigan

Dr. Nagda focuses his research on cultural diversity, social justice, intergroup dialogue and multicultural empowerment-oriented social work practice. As director of the School’s Intergroup Dialogue, Education & Action (IDEA) Center, he provides national and international leadership in intergroup dialogue work, builds coalitions with organizations focused on civic engagement and citizen empowerment, and prepares social work practitioners to interact effectively with an increasingly diverse clientele.

Affiliated with the School of Social Work since 1996, Dr. Nagda has served as a visiting scholar at the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre, University of Cape Town, and Global Development for Peace and Leadership, all in Cape Town, South Africa, as well as the University of Michigan School of Social Work. In addition to a doctorate in social work and psychology, he holds a bachelor of science, master in social work and master in psychology from the University of Michigan.

In 2014, Dr. Nagda was named the inaugural UW Diversity Scholar in recognition of his work as a researcher, teacher and citizen-advocate. Previously, he received the University’s Distinguished Teaching Award, the Brotman Award for Instructional Excellence and the Samuel E. Kelly Distinguished Faculty Lectureship. He is also the recipient of several Students’ Choice Teaching awards.

He has written numerous journal articles, chapters, monographs and manuals, and is co-author of three publications targeted to facilitators and practitioners working in higher education and community agencies: Intergroup Dialogue in Higher Education: Meaningful Learning About Social Justice, published by Jossey-Bass in 2007, Facilitating Intergroup Dialogues: Bridging Differences, Catalyzing Change, published by Stylus Publishing in 2011, and Dialogue across Difference: Practice, Theory and Research on Intergroup Dialogue, published by the Russell Sage Foundation in 2013. Additionally, he has presented papers at conferences and meetings throughout the United States as well as in South Africa, Australia, Sweden and Canada. 

Professional Interests:

  • Multicultural and empowerment-oriented approaches to social work practice and teaching
  • Social worker job stress and strain; intergroup dialogue
  • Alliance- and coalition-building across differences
  • Multicultural organization development

Research Projects: