Dealing with Difference Institute

Initiative for Social Justice Pedagogies

The need for greater understanding of diverse cultural traditions, values, and perspectives as the diversity of WIU’s students, faculty, and staff increases sparked the need to develop the Initiative for Social Justice Pedagogies (ISJP).

The goals for the ISJP evolved since its inception, placing greater emphasis on social justice over time while consistently stressing awareness and understanding of cultural diversity and its relevance within every classroom, office, and residence hall on campus. Programs and other assistance are directed toward understanding different cultures and cultural values, promoting effective communication across cultures, and suggesting ways to implement cultural diversity initiatives within each person’s spheres of influence. Helping integrate cultural information and insights into the curriculum and classroom practices is a primary objective of ISJP, since such knowledge is increasingly important to students preparing to live and work in a world of increasing diversity.

ISJP programs include the annual Dealing with Difference Institute, a speakers series, a series of anthologies, videos, and DVDs, a “Difficult Conversations” series, and a resource and advising center. The ISJP provided the impetus that led to the development of the multicultural requirement in General Education, the Group Diversity course as a core course within a multicultural curriculum, issue-specific diversity workshops for individual departments that focused on curriculum transformation and classroom practice, and the Cultural Diversity Cadre, which once a semester sponsors dinner/discussion evenings to bring faculty and staff together in an informal setting to socialize and learn. Workshops for various offices on campus are also an important aspect of its mission.