School of Education hosts Diversity Symposium track focused on diversity in education

November 01, 2016

Fothergill and Gupta

The School of Education hosted a day-long track focused on topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion in education during Colorado State University's 16th annual Diversity Symposium, held in September. The track offered 13 options during four session hours, with a final keynote wrapping up the day's presentations.

About the education track
Session topics focused on supporting LGBTQ students in the classroom, accessibility tips and tools, and the roles language and assumptions play in inclusivity. The track's keynote presentation by Raymond Wlodkowski and Margery Ginsberg, "Motivation and Learning in Culturally Diverse Environments: A Framework and Practices", offered applicable practices for honoring diversity and inclusion in the traditional and online classrooms. Following the keynote, attendees were invited to interact with the speakers during a closing reception. Additionally, several CSU students, alumni, and faculty presented at the symposium including Kelly McKenna, an assistant professor in the School of Education's Adult Education and Training specialization. McKenna, who co-presented the session,"A Wor(l)d Apart: Lessons Learned from an International Doctoral Student Collaborative Writing Workshop", explored the growing enrollments of international graduate students in American higher education institutions and how faculty can better serve these students as they transition to the culture, methodology, and theoretical perspectives of the American higher education system.

About the annual Diversity Symposium
The symposium offers a multitude of relevant and engaging diversity-oriented sessions for those on campus and in the Fort Collins community. This year's symposium focused on diversity opportunities and programs in higher education, centered on CSU specifically.

The symposium featured more than 50 sessions over four days, presented by CSU graduate students and faculty, as well as community and national speakers. Session topics included everything from practical ways to support victims of interpersonal violence to the role of technology in classrooms. Speakers included Jacqueline Patterson, Director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program, and Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy; Maria Hinojosa, a news anchor and award-winning reporter, presented the keynote address.

Future plans
The School of Education faculty and staff who were involved in the planning, promotion, and hosting of the education track feel a sense of pride in the feedback they've received from attendees, as well as the subtle changes they see in interactions among students who attended the education track. "I've been hearing conversations change, both after the sessions and in the weeks following the symposium," says Wendy Fothergill, an assistant professor in the School of Education's Center for Educator Preparation who was actively involved in the proposing, planning, and promotion of the track. Fothergill encouraged attendance by the pre-service teacher candidates in CEP's licensure program, and shares that these students have expressed appreciation for the way the track sessions touched on issues these teachers may face in the classroom. "Teachers are becoming more intentional about diversity-related issues and thinking," says Fothergill. "The track was a great way to merge current issues and education. Having the space and settings for safe, comfortable conversations about these issues helped encourage openness among students discussing what they learned in each session."

Kalpana Gupta, an assistant professor in the AET specialization who also played an active role in proposing, planning and promoting the track, says that such collaborative efforts among colleges and departments on campus helps the The Office of the Vice President for Diversity to continue its community outreach, and to provide resources for students and faculty on campus. "Diversity and education interact daily and it is through education that we can all learn more about what diversity means to each and every one of us," said Gupta. "Through discussion, research, and not being afraid to ask questions, we can begin to understand one another better and see multiple perspectives to enrich our own knowledge and experiences."

School of Education faculty and staff hope to participate again in next year's Diversity Symposium. In the meantime, they are discussing ways to continue fostering and supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion both on campus and the community.

Pictured, left to right: Kalpana Gupta and Wendy Fothergill

Contact:  Melissa Pickett

Telephone:  (970) 491-3167