TU faculty and staff to learn how to turn controversial topics into "courageous conversations"

By Reiko Gallo '18 on September 25, 2017

Friday’s conference will explore strategies and techniques for managing difficult conversations, resulting in “a more inclusive Towson.”

Towson University’s Office of Inclusion and Institutional Equity (OIIE) will host a Courageous Conversations Conference on Friday, Sept. 29 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in University Union Chesapeake Rooms 1 & 2 for faculty and staff.

As part of TU’s promise to advance inclusion and diversity on campus, this event will aid faculty and staff facilitating controversial topics surrounding race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, politics and immigration.

“Navigating evaluation sessions and departmental meetings can be uncomfortable,” explains TU’s Vice President of Inclusion and Institutional Equity Leah Cox, Ph.D.. “Difficult conversations, if not handled with diplomacy and finesse, can become heated, resulting in hurt feelings.

“This conference will explore courageous conversations and how we, together, can learn to foster a more inclusive Towson,” Cox adds.

The conference will feature keynote speaker Domonic Rollins, Ph.D.. Rollins serves as Harvard University’s senior diversity officer & special assistant to the deans. His areas of focus include diversity, social justice, organizational dynamics and supervision.

Following the keynote address, conference attendees can choose two breakout sessions from the following topics:

  • Courageous Conversations Inside Departmental Meetings
  • Equity Lens Inside Search Committees
  • Intersectional Interventions: Merit and Tenure Evaluation
  • Facilitating Challenging Conversations in Our Classrooms
  • Getting to Know the Keynote Speaker: Dr. Domonic Rollins

TU President Kim Schatzel will welcome conference attendees just prior to lunch.  Following lunch, Christa Schmidt, Ph.D., will introduce the afternoon session on intergroup dialogues. This program trains faculty and staff on how to engage in difficult conversations across identity differences. Specific strategies and lessons learned from intergroup dialogue can then be applied in the classroom.

TU’s OIIE fosters a climate grounded in respect, civility, and inclusion that enriches the educational experiences of students.  OIIE is supporting the following upcoming events:

Featuring Layaali Arabic Music Ensemble: Fadi Jano (vocals), Abdul-Wahab Kayyali (oud), Mohammed Mejaour (nay), Michel Moushabeck (percussion) and Jamal Sinno (qanun). 

  • Multicultural brown bag series: Oct 11 , Noon–1:15p.m., CLA 3150

Beating the odds: A phenomenological analysis of Black student experiences in U.S. public schools, presented by Marci Watson-Vandiver, Ph.D., Department of Elementary Education

Using critical race theory as a theoretical and analytical framework, this study examines both student engagement and school disaffection through the lens of Black student “positionality.” Participants (former Black public school students, ages 21-35) provide individual reflections of their past schooling experiences and detail critical needs in K-12 educational reform. The study’s major findings include the following themes: intrinsic motivation, student-teacher relationships, peer influence, mentoring, and a recasting of Black masculinity. 

  • Viewing of the Film “Voices of Baltimore”: November 8 from 4–8 p.m.

For more information, visit Towson’s Office of Inclusion and Institutional Equity

This story is one of several related to President Kim Schatzel's priorities for Towson University: Creating a More Diverse and Inclusive Campus