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Expanding Cultural Diversity Project / Dealing with Difference Institute

The development of the Expanding Cultural Diversity Project (ECDP) has reflected the need for greater understanding of diverse cultural traditions, values, and perspectives as the diversity of WIU’s students, faculty, and staff has increased.

The goals for the Expanding Cultural Diversity Project have evolved since its inception, placing greater emphasis on social justice over time, but 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 has been a primary objective since such knowledge has become increasingly important to students preparing to live and work in a world of increasing diversity.

ECDP 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 ECDP 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 sponsored dinner/discussion evenings to bring faculty and staff together in an informal setting to socialize and learn. Workshops for various offices on campus have also been an important aspect of its mission.