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2011 Dealing with Difference Institute

March 9, 2011

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MACOMB, IL -- The Western Illinois University 18th Annual Dealing with Difference Institute (DWDI) will be held Tuesday-Wednesday, May 17-18 in the Multicultural Center on the WIU-Macomb campus. The institute, which is designed for higher education faculty, students and staff, along with pre-K-12 educators, will feature presentations and discussions focusing this year's theme, "Fear: Its Uses and Abuses."

According to DWDI Co-Coordinator Janice Welsch, English professor emeritus, fear was chosen as this year's theme due to its relevance in the lives of a large portion of the world's population and because it is used extensively across a wide and divergent spectrum of interests.

"Its history and continuing potential as a force used to derail and destroy cross-cultural initiatives underscores the importance of getting a handle on it," Welsch added. "Because of the power and pervasiveness of fear, primary goals of this year's institute are to deepen the understanding of how fear works, and to strengthen the skills of participants in countering the inappropriate use of fear, especially fear that keeps people from working together."

The DWDI begins at 1 p.m. Tuesday, May 17 with a keynote presentation by Shakti Butler, a filmmaker and the executive director of World Trust. In an interactive session, "Fear: The Internal Engine of Oppression," Butler will offer participants a context for the ideas and action she identifies as critical to understanding and promoting genuine culturally diverse communities. She will also discuss fear as one of the personal and social complications that make communities difficult to build and maintain.

Another session will focus on ideas discussed by journalist Daniel Gardner in his book, "The Science of Fear: How the Culture of Fear Manipulates Your Brain." Based on the brain science pioneered by University of Oregon Professor Emeritus Paul Slovic and other scholars, Gardner approaches fear from a psychological perspective. He lays out some of the ways fear short circuits reason and leads to inappropriate responses to media messages, as well as to local and global events. Lance Ternasky, WIU associate dean of the College of Education and Human Services, and Melanie Hetzel-Riggin, associate professor of psychology at Western, will lead a discussion of these phenomena, the impact on intercultural dialogue and cooperation and evaluation and resistance strategies.

The DWDI will also include opportunities for participants to consider how yoga, meditation and visualization can help counter unthinking responses to messages of fear. Andrea Hyde, an associate professor in the educational and interdisciplinary studies department, and Karen Mauldin-Curtis, WIU's Peace Corps Fellows Program director, have both practiced and taught yoga for many years, while Tracy Knight, director of Western's Psychology Clinic, has applied visualization and guided imagery extensively since the 1980s. The Rev. Zuiko Redding, the Cedar Rapids (IA) Zen Center's resident teacher, regularly facilitates meditation at the center. They will focus on the philosophies, value, and practice of meditation, visualization, and yoga and their potential for offsetting fear.

Sessions will continue through 5 p.m. Tuesday, followed by a 6 p.m. dinner coordinated by Earl Bracey, associate vice president of student services.

On Wednesday, May 18 institute sessions will begin at 8:30 a.m. and end at 3 p.m. WIU students, faculty and staff may attend all DWDI sessions at no charge, with the exception of the Tuesday evening dinner. Educators from across the region who are interested in participating in the institute will be charged a modest fee to cover the cost of registration and meals.

Complete information about the DWDI presenters,
program and registration is available on the Illinois Association for Cultural Diversity website at

Questions can be directed to Welsch at or (309) 298-2057 or institute co-coordinator J.Q. Adams at or (309) 298-3698.

The institute is co-sponsored by Western Illinois University's Expanding Cultural Diversity Project, WIU's Center for Innovation in Teaching and Research and the Illinois Association for Cultural Diversity.

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