Dealing with Difference Institute

Speakers Series

In addition to the annual Dealing with Difference Institute, the EDCP organizes programs throughout the academic year.  Among the educators and activists who have made presentations, visited classrooms, and/or facilitated workshops are those identified below.  They are identified by their current affiliations and several of their major interests.

  • Dr. James A. Banks, Distinguished Professor and Director of the Multicultural Education Center, University of Washington, Seattle
  • Dr. Jeanett Castellanos, Director of the Academic Resource Center, University of California, Irvine. Latino studies
  • Dr. Antonia Darder, Distinguished Professor, Loyola/Marymount, Los Angeles, Education and public policy. Latina perspectives.
  • Dr. Manthia Diawara, Professor and filmmaker, Comparative Literature and Africana Studies, New York University. African cinema and literature
  • Dr. Troy Duster, Professor Emeritus, Sociology, University of California, Berkeley and D irector of the Institute for the History of the Production of Knowledge at New York University. Sociology of law, science, race and education
  • Dr. Heather Hackman, Founder, Hackman Consulting Group. Cultural diversity, social justice, and equity education
  • Ms. Janice Mandell, Director of St. Paul (MN) Central Theatre Touring Company and the ArtsLiteracy Project. Theatre as learning tool
  • Dr. Rozelle "Prexy" Nesbitt, Chicago-based educator and social justice activist whose focus has been on African history, apartheid, and racism
  • Dr. John Ogbu, (deceased), Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, author of Black American Students in an Affluent Suburb: A Study of Black Disengagement
  • Dr. Gary Orfield, Professor of Education, Law, Political Science and Urban Planning at University of California-Los Angeles. Co-director of the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles
  • Dr. Carlos J. Ovando, Professor of Curriculum. Instruction, and Educational Leadership, Arizona State University. Bilingual education
  • Dr. Thomas Parham, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, University of California, Irvine. Counseling, African American identity development
  • Dr. Joel Spring, Professor of Education, Queens College and Graduate Center, CUNY. Native American studies and politics, and American education
  • Dr. Laurence Steinberg, Distinguished University Professor, Temple University. Psychology and psychological development of adolescents

2013 Speaker

Ms. Janice Mandell and graduates of her Central Touring Theatre Company of St. Paul, MN will lead a workshop, Using Theatre to Strengthen Learning on Saturday, April 20, 2013, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in the Black Box Theatre, Bergendoff Hall of Fine Arts at Augustana College (3701 7th Avenue, Rock Island, IL). Ms. Mandell and her students have facilitated similar workshops on WIU’s Macomb campus on two occasions. As in the earlier workshops, they will offer participants an opportunity to learn how to create safe classroom communities and to design an innovative arts-infused curriculum.

For nearly 30 years, Ms Mandell has taught drama to middle and secondary school students and, more recently, has collaborated with universities on arts literacy projects. Her passion for theatre, influenced by the theory and practice of Augusto Boal and his Theatre of the Oppressed, is rooted in her conviction “that artistic expression can be a powerful and positive force in the lives of young people.”

In the book she co-authored, Acting, Learning, and Change, the principles reflected in Ms Mandell’s theatre work are documented. One of the most important, the social nature of learning, involves the “accumulation and adaptation of knowledge [that] takes place as students and teachers act together in their learning.” Through theatre, students not only develop a commitment to equity justice, but teachers learn new ways to appreciate and value their students’ skills and knowledge.

Central to Ms Mandell’s approach is the creation of a safe space where diverse participants are comfortable sharing their stories, discussing the barriers that separate them, and creating original plays that help them work through the barriers. To establish the sense of safety at the heart of her work, Ms Mandell helps her students transform themselves from a disparate group of individuals to an ensemble whose interaction is based on trust. The dramas they develop are powerful, entertaining explorations of contemporary social issues, such as race, poverty, and prejudice. They attract participants whose race/ethnicity, social class, and level of academic achievement vary, and they draw audiences that include children and adolescents as well as adults.

One of the English Education majors who participated in Ms. Mandell’s 2010 workshop responded enthusiastically to her experience. She wrote in her evaluation: “As a high school student I knew the types of activities that were more beneficial to me and which ones helped me retain information. I didn't realize, however, that the types of lessons I preferred were considered different and maybe even risky on the part of the teacher.  I never thought . . . that those teachers were the ones who really understood the essence of learning. Jan Mandell understood. She had struggled herself, which made her presentation more authentic . . . . It was refreshing that Mandell achieves this in her classroom and that she has the ability to give up the leadership role without sacrificing her professionalism or control of the classroom.”

Though the April 20, 2013 workshop is free, participants must register for it since space is limited.  They are also asked to be prepared to stay through the entire workshop since establishing a sense of community is critical and the exercises the facilitators introduce build on each other.

The workshop is co-sponsored by Western Illinois University and Augustana College.  For further information contact Janice R. Welsch ( / 309.298.2057), Carla Paciotto ( / 309.762.9481), or Araceli Masterson-Algar ( / 309.794.8276.