University News

2007 Dealing with Diversity Institute

April 16, 2007

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MACOMB, IL -- Intercultural communication will be the central focus of Western Illinois University's 14th annual Dealing With Difference Institute (DWDI) Monday and Tuesday, May 21-22 in the University Union on the WIU-Macomb campus.

"Given the ever-increasing cultural diversity within the U.S., as well as the expanding ties of people throughout the world, the ability to communicate across cultures has become more and more vital," said Janice Welsch, institute co-coordinator and English professor emeritus. "Many educators, whether working in higher education or within PreK-12 schools, have experienced the frustration of not being able to interact effectively with students whose cultures differ from their own. They have also experienced the joy and satisfaction of successfully connecting with students when they have been able to tap into their students' perspectives and communicate effectively."

2007 DWDI presenters include Kevin Fahey, a professor at Salem State College, MA; Franklin Thompson, who teaches courses in human relations, race relations, urban education, and counseling at the University of Nebraska, Omaha; John Baldwin, an associate professor of communication at Illinois State University; AnaLouise Keating, a professor of women's studies at Texas Woman's University; and Kent Koppelman, author of "Values in the Key of Life: Making Harmony in the Human Community and Understanding Human Differences: Multicultural Education for a Diverse America."

Monday, May 21 speakers include:

Fahey will present "What Do We Talk About: How Do We Talk about It? And What Difference Does It Make?", which will examine how the tools of intercultural analysis can lead to an understanding of hidden cultural assumptions about basic categories of life, such as space, time, identity and politics. He will also present "What Do We Think? And What Decisions Do We Make?", which will focus on cultural differences in decision-making, teamwork and leadership styles.

Thompson will discuss "Interactive Diversity Teaching Techniques, Part 1 and 2." During this presentation, he will employ techniques and activities based on the work of Paulo Freire and Augusto Boal to convey the importance of making head-to-heart connections when studying cultural diversity and discussing some of the controversial topics associated with it.

Baldwin will present "How Do We Teach Culturally? How Do We Teach Culture?" Drawing from several disciplines, he will analyze some commonly used frameworks for understanding cultural differences and discuss their relevance for teachers before he critiques concepts of culture and how they have changed over time.

Keating, who also serves as the co-editor with Gloria Anzaldúa of "this bridge we call home: radical visions for transformation," will lead the two-part session "Transformational Multiculturalism, Transcultural Dialogues, and Social Change." Keating will focus on the fact that both students and teachers can be changed through their explorations of multicultural issues. Advocating a holistic approach, she will address multiple interrelated differences among people and discuss specific strategies she has developed to invite student transformation.

Koppelman will present "Cross-Cultural Relations Beyond the Campus," which emphasizes the importance of helping students understand the value of acquiring intercultural communication skills if they are to participate as adults, not only in the workplace, but throughout society. He will also explore recent developments that promote cross-cultural relations in various sectors of society.

"Becoming adept at understanding and conveying ideas across cultures has become an imperative in education and entails deepening one's knowledge of the assumptions underlying intercultural communication as well as the cultural patterns of thinking and behaving that determine cross-cultural interaction," Welsch added. "Helping participants achieve this is one of the aims of the institute."

In addition to the guest presenters, Western Illinois faculty J.Q. Adams and Gloria Delany-Barmann, educational and interdisciplinary studies; Isabel Lamptey of the Center for Preparation of Education Professionals; and Mohammad Siddiqi, English and journalism; will lead the final session May 22. During a panel discussion, the group will focus on "Navigating Cross-Cultural Encounters in the USA and Beyond." They will describe and analyze their varied experiences interacting across multiple cultures from their perspectives as individuals born in the United States or as immigrants to this country.

A complete schedule for the DWDI is available on the Illinois Association for Cultural Diversity website at In addition to the schedule, the website provides access to biographies of presenters and abstracts describing the sessions, as well as registration forms and general information about motels, course credit for students and professional development credit for teachers.

The institute is sponsored by Western's Expanding Cultural Diversity Project and the Illinois Association for Cultural Diversity.

For more information, contact Adams at, Welsch at JR-Welsch@ or 309/298-2057 or Suzanne Boussaard at

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