Western Illinois University: Macomb Campus
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Dealing with Difference Institute
Expanding Cultural Diversity Project / Dealing with Difference Institute
The Expanding Cultural Diversity Project furthers awareness and understanding of cultural diversity through professional development and networking, research and scholarship, and curricular and instructional transformation. Programs help faculty, staff, and students acquire the competencies they need to communicate and interact effectively within a culturally diverse world. One of the primary initiatives of the ECDP is the annual Dealing with Difference Institute, a conference that focuses on current cultural diversity issues and encompasses theory as well as practice.
The development of the ECDP has reflected the need for greater understanding of diverse cultural traditions, values, and perspectives as the diversity of WIU’s students, faculty, and staff has increased.
The goals for the Expanding Cultural Diversity Project have evolved since its inception, placing greater emphasis on social justice over time, but consistently stressing awareness and understanding of cultural diversity and its relevance within every classroom, office, and residence hall on campus. Programs and other assistance are directed toward understanding different cultures and cultural values, promoting effective communication across cultures, and suggesting ways to implement cultural diversity initiatives within each person’s spheres of influence. Helping integrate cultural information and insights into the curriculum and classroom practices has been a primary objective since such knowledge has become increasingly important to students preparing to live and work in a world of increasing diversity.
ECDP programs include the annual Dealing with Difference Institute, a speakers series, a series of anthologies, videos, and DVDs, a “Difficult Conversations” series and a resource and advising center. The ECDP provided the impetus that led to the development of the multicultural requirement in General Education, the Group Diversity course as a core course within a multicultural curriculum, issue-specific diversity workshops for individual departments that focused on curriculum transformation and classroom practice, and the Cultural Diversity Cadre, which once a semester sponsored dinner/discussion evenings to bring faculty and staff together in an informal setting to socialize and learn. Workshops for various offices on campus have also been an important aspect of its mission.
20th Dealing with Difference Institute
Tuesday and Wednesday, May 14 and 15, 2013
Distinguished Professor James A. Banks, Founding Director of the Center for Multicultural Education, at the University of Washington, Seattle, will make the keynote presentation during the 2013 Dealing with Difference Institute at Western Illinois University. Dr. Banks will discuss “Diversity in America: Challenges and Opportunities for Educating Citizens in Global Times.” He has chosen this topic because he sees the future of multicultural education in the United States linked with global citizenship and globalization, with diversity issues in nations around the world. His visit is particularly appropriate on the 20th anniversary of the Dealing with Difference Institute since he was the first major nationally recognized cultural diversity scholar to speak at Western when the university intensified its efforts to integrate multicultural scholarship into its curriculum and increase the diversity among its students, staff and faculty in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
Dr. Banks has written groundbreaking texts in multicultural education, including Teaching Strategies for Ethnic Studies, now in its 8th edition; Multicultural Education: Issues and Perspectives, now in its 7th edition; Multicultural Education, Transformative Knowledge, and Action; and Diversity and Citizenship Education: Global Perspectives. Among his critically recognized edited works are the Handbook of Research on Multicultural Education, and the four-volume Encyclopedia of Diversity in Education published in 2012.
A former elementary school teacher, Dr. Banks earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Chicago State University before earning master’s and doctoral degrees from Michigan State University. Since then, he has received six honorary doctorates and been recognized by colleagues, colleges and universities, and professional organizations with numerous awards and fellowships, including Distinguished Career, Research Review, and Social Justice in Education awards from the American Educational Research Association, fellowships from the Kellogg and Rockefeller Foundations, and a Spencer Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford. His research has had an impact on multicultural education not only in the United States but in over 20 nations across the world.
Dr. Banks will be speaking on the second day of the institute, Wednesday, May 15, at 8:30 a.m. in Western’s Multicultural Center. His presentation will be followed by a workshop facilitated by Dr. Paul Gorski, associate professor of integrative studies at George Mason University and the founder of EdChange, a coalition of educators and activists committed to educational equity who have developed free, web-accessible resources to further the understanding and practice of social justice and equity.
Professor Gorski will focus on “Creating an Equitable Learning and Working Environment: An Equity Literacy Approach.” He describes equity literacy as “an approach to thinking about diversity that includes four components: (1) the ability to recognize inequity, (2) the ability to respond to inequity, (3) the ability to redress inequity, and (4) the ability to create and sustain an equitable working and learning environment.” These abilities require practitioners to move beyond celebrations of diversity and cultural competence to focus on social justice and equity. After discussing the components of equity literacy, Dr. Gorski will help participants apply them within their spheres of influence. His two-part workshop will begin at 10:15 a.m. and conclude shortly before 1:00 p.m.
Dr. Banks’ and Dr. Gorski’s sessions will reflect the 2013 DWDI theme, “Multicultural Education: Always Unfinished, Always Evolving.” Plans for the Tuesday, May 14, workshops and presentations as well as the closing session on May 15 will also mirror this theme and will revolve around brief reviews of the development of multicultural education over the past two decades and discussion of its future direction. The DWDI will begin at 1:00 p.m. on May 14 and will include a dinner following the afternoon sessions. Presentations will resume at 8:30 a.m. on May 15 with Dr. Bank’s talk followed by Dr. Gorski’s workshop, lunch, and a closing panel.
Additional information--a complete schedule, credit options, and registration forms--will be posted on this site. Questions? Contact the DWDI co-directors, Janice R. Welsch (firstname.lastname@example.org / 309-298-2057) or J. Q. Adams (email@example.com / 309-298-3698).