Illinois Association for Cultural Diversity

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Session Presenters, Panelists and Discussants

Bill Knight

Fear and Mass Communication: Perspectives of Three Western Illinois University Journalism Faculty

Bill Knight teaches journalism courses ranging from The Press and Popular Culture and Law of Mass Communication to Media Literacy and Sports Writing. He is also a practicing journalist. In addition to his weekly commentary for Tri States National Public Radio, he writes a regular column for newspapers in Peoria, Pekin, Monmouth, Galesburg, Kewanee and Macomb. The International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors, the Illinois Associated Press, the Illinois Press Association, the International Labor Communications Association, and the Suburban Newspapers Association of America have all recognized him for his outstanding commentaries and reporting.

Mr. Knight will take a local perspective in his comments and address fear as a consequence of typical reports of local crime, severe weather and multi-part features that rely on sensation to increase ratings during semi-annual ‘’sweeps.” He will also discuss the internal fear generated within newsrooms by the financial decisions of upper echelon administrators and the impact of this fear on quality reporting.

Mohammad Siddiqi

Mohammad Siddiqi, the director of WIU’s journalism program, teaches courses in the fundamentals of public relations and international public relations as well as techniques and styles of public relations writing, and international communication. He is the author of Islam, Muslims and Media: Myths and Realities and Islam: A Contemporary Perspective. He has also contributed many chapters to books and articles to refereed journals. Dr. Siddiqi is a member of the Public Relations Society of America and a life member of the International Association of Media and Communication Research. He serves on the editorial advisory boards of the Journal of Arab & Muslim Media Research, UK, the Journal of Media Studies, Pakistan, and the Journal of the Global Communication Research Association.

Dr. Siddiqi’s research and experience in media and its presentation of Islam and Muslims more than qualifies him to discuss the role media play in creating a climate of fear in the context of Islam and Muslims.

Pearlie Strother-Adams

Pearlie Strother-Adams’s research interests parallel but do not duplicate those of Dr. Siddiqi in that her focus has been on African Americans in the media. She is particularly interested in the representation of African American males and is currently studying the depiction of African American men as heroes in mainstream media and as “buddies” of European American women in buddy films. She continues to study media portrayals of African Americans that feed into a culture of fear. She will be contributing to the discussion of Fear and Mass Communication from that perspective.

Besides the research described above, Ms. Strother-Adams has looked into the representation of African American women and of people from the Middle East. She is writing a book on African American women who were active participants in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement but were often overlooked in accounts of that movement. Courses she teaches include Introduction to Mass Media, Reporting for Mass Media, Reviewing and Criticism, and Research Methods.

A Discussion of Daniel Gardner’s The Science of Fear: How the Culture of Fear Manipulates Your Brain

Melanie Hetzel-Riggin, a faculty member in Western Illinois University’s psychology department and Lance Ternasky associate dean of the College of Education and Human Services (COEHS), will lead this discussion of Daniel Gardner’s study of new brain science. Gardner focuses on risk, how individuals and groups process risk, and how risk and fear are related. Basing his writing on the research of Professor Emeritus Paul Slovic and other risk analysts, Gardner distinguishes between two familiar systems of thought: conscious thought with its characteristic dependence on information and reason, and unconscious thought, with its opposing tendency to act out of emotion and intuition. As Gardner puts it, unconscious thought works on a gut level and “is intuitive, quick, and emotional,” while conscious thought is associated with the head and is “calculating, slow, and rational.” These two systems are constantly in play and if they are not balanced, in a world where fear is aggressively marketed, quick emotional, fear-filled responses can result.

Since fear has been a tool used to separate various cultural groups nationally and internationally, understanding how it produces these divisions is a first step in offsetting its effectiveness; understanding its psychological underpinnings is part of that process. Hence this discussion of The Science of Fear.

Melanie Hetzel-Riggin

Dr. Melanie Hetzel-Riggin earned a doctoral degree in clinical psychology from Northern Illinois University. Among the courses she teaches are Clinical Classification and Decision Processes, Personality and Adjustment, and a Practicum in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She also supervises clinical/community mental health graduate students.

She has published in Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, the Journal of Trauma and Dissociation, Child Abuse and Neglect, and the Journal of Traumatic Stress.

Recently Dr. Hetzel-Riggin served as lead writer for a $300,000 Department of Justice grant that aims to reduce interpersonal violence on the Western campus through a comprehensive education, prevention, and intervention program.


Lance Ternasky

Dr. Lance Ternasky, while in the department of educational and interdisciplinary studies, taught courses in the philosophy of education, historical and social foundations, and multicultural and social foundations.

Since being appointed associate dean of the COEHS, he has been responsible for academic programs within the college and directs the Office of Research Design and Analysis, the Office of Partnerships, Development and Technology, and the Office of Best Practices in Early Childhood Education. He has served on research and design teams for the Illinois State Board of Education and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education.

American Identities and Fear

JQ Adams

J. Q. Adams will explore the relationship between various official documents and practices of the U.S.A. government and the alienation, distrust, and fear that result in the conflicting and disparate identities created and maintained through them. Contradictions between the ideals of the U.S.A. and the injustice and inequality built into its laws and governing structure have led to ambivalence about who qualifies to be an American, a designation that has evolved since the adoption of the Constitution and continues to evolve as immigration patterns change and fear is used to prevent dialogue and understanding across the cultures represented in the country.

Dr. Adams teaches a variety of related courses in the department of educational and interdisciplinary studies, including Multicultural and Social Foundations of Education, Implications of Diversity for Educational Leaders, and Social Change and the Multicultural Aspects of School. He has worked extensively with school systems to strengthen the cultural competence of teachers and administrators in an era of increasing student diversity and regularly leads workshops on multicultural issues. In 2009 he received the G. Pritchy Smith Multicultural Educator Award from the National Association of Multicultural Education and the WIU Provost’s Excellence in Multicultural Teaching Award. He is Western Illinois University’s 2011 Distinguished Faculty Lecturer.

Countering Fear Through Meditation, Visualization, & Yoga

This session will revolve around descriptive presentations on three practices that have proven helpful in relieving stress and reestablishing equilibrium when a person experiences fear. All of the practices have wider implications but all of them offer practitioners ways to distance themselves from the immediacy and intensity of situations that cause fear. They have been adopted as secular practices within a number of professional settings, but they are frequently informed by spiritual values.

Andrea Hyde

Andrea Hyde, an assistant professor of educational and interdisciplinary studies at the WIU Quad Cities campus, earned her PhD in the social and comparative analysis of education from the University of Pittsburgh. She teaches courses in the socio-cultural, philosophical and legal foundations of education. She is an active member of the Council for Social Foundations of Education and the American Educational Studies Association.

As a a member of the International Association for School Yoga and Mindfulness, Dr. Hyde is helping develop national standards for yoga in school programs that will align with state Health, Physical Education and Social/Emotional Learning standards. She is certified to teach yoga to both children and adults and to develop and facilitate Yoga Edâ„¢ “Tools for Teachers” workshops for education students and educators at all levels. This professional development program prepares teachers to facilitate yoga-based practices that improve focus, energy, concentration, learning readiness, fitness, and productivity in the classroom.

Tracy Knight

Tracy Knight came to WIU after 24 years as a full-time practicing clinical psychologist. As an associate professor in the psychology department, he directs the psychology clinic, coordinates the department’s clinical graduate program, and teaches courses in client-therapist relations, psychological assessment, clinical psychology, mental health delivery systems, and systems of psychotherapy.

Dr. Knight trained in the clinical application of visualization and guided imagery in the 1980s and has utilized this approach extensively in both psychological and medical settings, with positive, and sometimes surprising, results. Visualization, creatively applying human beings’ imagery-creating ability to human problems, has been successfully used to achieve a wide variety of goals. Because a significant and powerful part of the human mind does not reliably distinguish between what is experienced through our senses and what we imagine, we can use visualization to reduce stress, improve performance and, in Knight's words, "make ourselves part of the equation again."

Karen Mauldin-Curtis

Karen Mauldin-Curtis served with the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic in the early 1990s and currently manages WIU’s Peace Corps Fellows Program in Community Development. She holds a MA in Geography from WIU and a BA in Sociology from the University of California, San Diego. She has been practicing yoga for more than 20 years and has been teaching in the Macomb area for eight years. Her personal practice and teaching focus on cultivating awareness through a variety of yoga styles.

Ms. Mauldin-Curtis sees yoga as a practice that helps develop strength, balance, and flexibility physically and emotionally. She suggests that, as a moving meditation, yoga cleanses the body, quiets the mind, opens the heart, and leads to a deeper level of awareness of oneself and others. Through yoga, the awareness, non-judgment, and compassion experienced in class (“on the mat”) nurture those qualities outside of class (”off the mat”), enabling practitioners to experience joy more fully and to address challenges more readily.

Rev. Redding

Rev. Zuiko Redding is the resident teacher at Cedar Rapids Zen Center, a Buddhist congregation in Iowa. After earning a PhD in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she taught sociology at several universities before beginning her second career as a member of the clergy. She had begun practicing Zen Buddhism as an undergraduate student in the early 1960s. In 1992, Rev. Redding received novice ordination in the Soto Zen Buddhist tradition from Rev. Tsugen Narasaki, abbot of Zuiouji Training Monastery in Niihama, Japan. After completing her clerical training at Zuiouji and its mountain training center, Shougoji, she took her final vows, became recognized as a teacher in the Zen Buddhist tradition, and returned to the U.S.A. In 2000, she and a small group of lay practitioners founded Cedar Rapids Zen Center which now has around fifty members and an active practice schedule.

Rev. Redding will discuss meditation as “Learning how to recognize and let go of the ideas we carry around with us about others and allowing ourselves to simply be with the reality of the person in front of us.”

Screening and Discussion of Jeremy Rifkin’s The Empathic Civilization

Available as a 788-page hardcover book and as an 11-minute video, Jeremy Rifkin’s The Empathic Civilization has drawn praise as well as criticism. In part, this rewriting of history is based on recent brain science and child development research that have identified mirror, or empathy, neurons “that allow human beings and other species to feel and experience another’s situation as if it were one’s own.” Rifkin explores the implications of this research and suggests “human evolution is not only measured by the expansion of power over nature, but also by the intensification and extension of empathy to more diverse others across broader temporal and spatial domains.“ After a screening of the animated overview of The Empathic Civilization, Tammy La Prad and Sean Dixon will lead a discussion of the ideas sketched in the film, emphasizing their relevance for educators interested in multicultural education.
Tammy La Prad

Tammy La Prad, an instructor and field experience supervisor with the department of education and interdisciplinary studies and the Center for the Preparation of Educational Professionals at WIU, teaches courses in the social foundations of education, supervises pre-clinical secondary education majors, and coordinates field experiences in diverse school settings. Her professional and scholarly interests include multicultural education and school/community partnerships. She earned degrees from Michigan State University and the University of Virginia before teaching in private and public schools in Virginia. She wrote for and coordinated community outreach for both a regional and statewide educational parenting magazine. After relocating to Illinois, she co-founded iParent Magazine, Inc. a local/regional not-for-profit magazine which served communities and schools in McDonough County.

Sean Dixon

Sean Dixon earned a BA in journalism at Illinois State University, served in the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic, worked in the high tech data communications industry, and taught high school and middle school Spanish before entering the MA program in WIU’s department of educational and interdisciplinary studies (EIS).

His thesis for his MA was a comprehensive study of men’s centers, which contributed to the creation of Western’s recently approved Center for the Study of Masculinities and Men's Development. His interest in this topic had been sparked by his previous participation in the Mankind Project and in the Boys to Men Mentoring Network, an organization dedicated to helping boys between the ages of 13 and 17 "learn integrity, accountability, compassion and respect."  

He teaches Multicultural and Social Foundations of Education in EIS.

Some photos courtesy of Western Illinois University Visual Production Center