Western Illinois University: Macomb Campus
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Dealing with Difference Institute
Dr. Paul Gorski
Dr. Paul Gorski, Associate Professor of Integrative Studies in the New Century College at George Mason University, teaches courses that revolve around issues of class and poverty, educational equity, social justice, diversity in higher education, and identity, politics, and schooling. These issues are central to the Social Justice undergraduate program and minor he has developed within his department and are reflected in his writing and conference presentations. His co-edited anthology, Cultivating Social Justice Teachers, was published earlier this year. His articles include “The Myth of the Culture of Poverty,” “The Scholarship Informing the Practice: Multicultural Teacher Education Philosophy and Practice in the United States,” and “Intercultural Education as Social Justice.” The High Price of Poverty: Class and Schooling in the U.S. is in process.
Dr. Gorski created and maintains the award-winning website, Multicultural Pavilion, and founded EdChange, a coalition of educators and activists who have developed free, web-accessible resources to further the understanding and practice of social justice and equity. This interest in the internet is reflected in Multicultural Education and the Internet: Intersections and Integrations, now in its second edition. His “professional and spiritual passions lie in building movements and engaging in processes for creating equitable and just organizations, schools, and communities.”
In a combination DWDI presentation/workshop scheduled from 10:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. on Wednesday, May 14, 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 social justice and equity. After discussing the components of equity literacy, Dr. Gorski and participants will discuss its personal and professional relevance for themselves.
Dr. Ann Russo
Dr. Ann Russo chairs the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at DePaul University in Chicago. The department “examines women’s and men’s identities and experiences through the constructs of gender, race, class, sexuality, age, ability, culture, religion, [and] nation …within broader historical, social and global contexts, such as colonialism and globalization.” The department works to “relate real life issues to theoretical feminist concepts and abstract ideals.” This is evident in the courses Professor Russo teaches, which include Feminist Framesworks, Women and Violence, Antiracist Feminisms, Contemporary Feminist Sex Debates, and Women, Gender, Agency, and Change. As an activist as well as a scholar, she is interested in coalition, solidarity, and alliance building, interests she will explore in her DWDI presentation, “Cultivating Accountability: Building Community and Solidarity across Power Lines” on Tuesday afternoon, May 14.
Drawing upon antiracist and transnational feminisms, Dr. Russo will share some of the innovative strategies scholars, educators, and activists are using to build relationships and solidarity across systemic inequities. Shifting from strategies that create unity through the inclusion of differences, this approach builds solidarity through a praxis of accountability. It encourages us to understand our complicity and participation in systems of oppression and privilege, and to build coalitional consciousness and action from within that recognition. Ultimately, solidarity is created through shared political and ethical frameworks with underlying values of mutuality, reciprocity, and interconnectedness.
Dr. Russo is the author of Taking Back Our Lives: A Call to Action in the Feminist Movement (2001), and co-editor of Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism (1990) as well as Talking Back, Acting Out (2002). She has published essays in the International Feminist Journal of Politics, Violence Against Women, and Sojourner, as well as in anthologies, including The Intersectional Approach: Transforming the Academy Through Race, Class, & Gender and Confronting Same-Sex Domestic Violence. She is currently working on a book about cultivating feminist practices of accountability as a method of building multiracial and transnational feminisms. She is active in a variety of local organizations committed to community accountability and transformative justice.