Illinois Association for Cultural Diversity

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DWDI Conference Information

Conference Archives

2012 Dealing with Difference Institute

Session Abstracts & Presenter Biographies


Balancing Personal and Group Identity with National Allegiance  Kenan Malik’s July 7, 2011 New York Times article, “Assimilation’s Failure, Terrorism’s Rise” and the legislation banning Ethnic Studies in Arizona this past year have led to a reconsideration of multiculturalism and assimilation as it is recognized and practiced in the contemporary world. Though Malik addressed British, German, and French government policy, the conundrum he examines is the reality of shifting populations in nations that have traditionally recognized themselves as relatively homogeneous. The U.S.A. has been far more diverse than most other nations, but it too is undergoing a population shift that will put people of color in the majority while the traditional white majority becomes a minority. The assumed hegemony of the white majority cannot hold. Given this reality, how do educators help insure a successful transformation? How do educators honor the cultures of the many peoples who comprise the nation while maintaining the unity and allegiance that allow a nation to exist as a nation?

JQ AdamsDr. J. Q. 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 he regularly leads workshops on social justice and 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 was Western Illinois University’s 2011 Distinguished Faculty Lecturer.

Sing Your Song  This documentary biography provides an overview of Harry Belafonte’s life, with an emphasis on his career as a performer and on his commitment to social justice. As an activist, Belafonte was an intrepid supporter of the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S.A. and of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa; he continues to work toward equity and justice through his involvement with youth.

Pastures of Plenty: Using Music to Promote Change This program focuses on the use of music as a means of uniting people around critical issues. Specifically, participants will explore how the Nueva Canción (new song) movement in Latin America promoted social change in countries such as Chile and Argentina during tumultuous political times. Nueva Canción is deeply rooted in Latin American folk music and was also an inspiration for artists like Joan Baez in the United States and Joan Manuel Serrat in Spain. The music to be featured includes that of Violeta Parra, Victor Jara, Mercedes Sosa, and Atahualpa Yupanqui as well as similarly inspired music by United States musicians such as Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie. Musicians Mr. Ivan Chancay, Mr. Dan Eilers, and Dr. Reinhard Lindner will be on hand to play some of the music that is discussed.

Gloria Delany-BarmannDr. Gloria Delany-Barmann is an associate professor in the Department of Educational and Interdisciplinary Studies and coordinates the Bilingual/ESL Education program at Western Illinois University. She holds degrees in language studies from the University of California at Santa Cruz, in Spanish from the University of Oregon, and in curriculum and instruction from Northern Arizona University. Her research interests include language maintenance and revitalization and bilingual teacher training in the U.S.A. and abroad. She has received separate Fulbright grants for work in Guatemala and in Bolivia and has worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala.

What the World Needs Now…Cultural Competencies for Reducing Racial and Ethnic Prejudice  Across the nation, educators are challenged to become culturally competent and ready to meet the increasingly complex needs of P-12 schools, higher education institutions, and communities. How do educators and leaders form and sustain school and community environments that are equitable and socially just? What strategies do we have for reducing racial and ethnic prejudice? How do we recognize and honor the individuality of each student while creating a common vision for academic achievement and intergroup relationships? Answering these questions is critical to building proactive forces that can defeat violence and injustice. Using case studies, vignettes, and excerpts from the documentary August to June (, the facilitators will lead a discussion about the role of educators in creating multicultural communities that embrace enculturation rather than assimilation. They will discuss strategies for improving intergroup relations and reducing discrimination and will share additional resources on cultural competency, including those developed as part of the Teaching Diverse Students Initiative.

James La PradDr. James La Prad is an Associate Professor of Education at Western Illinois University; he teaches courses in the social foundations of education from philosophical, historical, legal, and socio-cultural perspectives. His research, scholarship, and practice include critical pedagogy in teaching and learning environments, experiential education, educational ethics, moral education, and transformative educational leadership. He received his B.S. in Metallurgical and Material Science Engineering from the University of Notre Dame and his M.Ed. and Ph.D. in Social Foundations of Education from the University of Virginia. In 2008, the National Society for Experiential Education honored Dr. La Prad as NSEE’s Experiential Education Higher Education Leader of the Year.  

Tamara La PradMs. Tamara La Prad, an instructor and field experience supervisor with Western Illinois Univsersity’s Department of Educational and Interdisciplinary Studies and Center for the Preparation of Educational Professionals, 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. While in Virginia she also wrote for and coordinated community outreach for both a regional and a 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.

Contemporary Social Justice Activities and Movements I How do three individuals with significantly different perspectives and backgrounds arrive at the same junction of social justice and activism? For Cornell, Justine, and Sean, choosing to celebrate their similarities and continuously working on the differences that could divide them offers an answer. How they and others can use varying racial/ethnic, class, gender, and sexual orientation identities as a catalyst for social change provides the context for their discussion of several Western Illinois University student organizations and initiatives that emphasize nonviolent social change. These include Men Advocating Nonviolence (MAN), Words Matter, and a Social Justice Retreat.

Dixon, Johnson and Mr. Cornell Bondurant, a graduating Social Work major at Western Illinois University, has, throughout his tenure at WIU, gotten involved in student organizations, including the Student Government Association, Council on Admission, Graduation and Academic Standards, Council on Student Activities Funds, Black Student Association, and the Battle Alcohol Consequences Squad. He helped plan the 1st and 2nd Black Student Summits and is responsible for establishing Men Advocating Nonviolence (MAN). Using his strong oral presentation and engagement skills, he has presented at three Black Student Summits, The Big 12 Conference on Student Government at the University of Missouri, and at Ralph Ellison High School in Chicago where he stressed the value of family communication to inner city students. Through these activities and as a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Blue Key Honor Society, and Phi Alpha Honor Society he strives for social justice and change.

Mr. 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.

Ms. Justine Johnson is the coordinator of Western's recently implemented Interpersonal Violence Prevention Initiative (IVPI).  Johnson earned her masters degree in gender and women's studies at Minnesota State University, Mankato (2011) and her bachelor of science in political science from the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse (2008).  She has been a sexual assault victim advocate since 2008 working with gender violence and men's engagement. Johnson is committed to having an inclusive dialogue about the intersection of identities and the gender violence movement. She has presented at the National Women's Studies Association in 2010 and 2011 and the American Men's Studies Association conference in April 2011 on challenging gender norms.

Contemporary Social Justice Activities and Movements II  In this second part of the exploration of contemporary nonviolent social justice movements, the focus will be on an evaluation of national movements, with an emphasis on the Occupy Movement. Based on his experience and involvement in the Occupy movement both on a state and regional level, the presenter will discuss the mission, goals, philosophy and various strategies individual Occupy groups have adopted.

Mr. AJ Segneri, whose research has been primarily in political science, sociology and cultural studies, has been an activist for the past 12 years. During that time he has been committed to social justice, the environment, education, the arts, government reform, and LGBT rights and has worked with a variety of individuals and groups with a similar commitment. He currently serves as the Executive Director of the Foundation for a United Front, a nonprofit umbrella organization that focuses on building community and partners with other organizations and individuals to further social, economic, and environmental justice. The Foundation is based in Springfield, Ilinois.

Participant Small Group Discussions  All of the individuals attending the DWDI are invited to choose a topic or activity of particular interest to them and to join a group of like-minded participants to discuss how they might continue their study of the topic or how they might implement the activity to further social transformation on their campus or in their community. Essentially, this is an opportunity to ask—and begin to answer—the question, Where do I/we go from here? One group, led by Debra Miretzky, will use this time to explore possible topics for WIU’s 2013 Difficult Conversations, a series of informal discussions that help foster interaction and communication around challenging issues of cultural diversity.

Some photos courtesy of Western Illinois University Visual Production Center