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2014 Dealing with Difference Institute

Confirmed Keynote Speakers

Dr. Heather Hackman
Dr. David Stovall
Mr. Shaka Rawls
Dr. Tracy Davis
Dr. Rachel Wagner




Tuesday, May 13 Keynote Presentation

Dr. Heather Hackman: “Social Justice Education: An Indispensable Element in 21st Century Education”

The 21st Dealing with Difference Institute will open with a keynote presentation/workshop facilitated by Dr. Heather Hackman at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 13, 2014 in the Multicultural Center on Western Illinois University’s Macomb campus. She will focus on “Social Justice Education: An Indispensable Element in 21st Century Education.”

Dr. Hackman has been teaching and training on social justice issues since 1992 and was a tenured professor in the Department of Human Relations and Multicultural Education at St. Cloud State University in St Cloud, Minnesota for 12 years before she began focusing full time on consulting. She has taught courses in social justice and multicultural education (pre-service and in-service teachers), race and racism, heterosexism and homophobia, social justice education (higher education leadership), oppression and social change, sexism and gender oppression, class oppression, and Jewish oppression.

Dr. Hackman received her doctorate in Social Justice Education from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 2000 and has taught at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Westfield State College, Springfield College, St Cloud State University, Hamline University, and the University of St Thomas. In 2005 she founded Hackman Consulting group and consults nationally on issues of deep diversity, equity and social justice and has focused most of her recent training work on issues of racism and white privilege, gender oppression, heterosexism and homophobia, and classism. She has published in the area of social justice education theory and practice, racism in health care (with Stephen Nelson), and is currently working on two books, one examining issues of race, racism and whiteness in education through a model she calls “cellular wisdom,” and another addressing anti-racism professional development training for E-12 professionals.

In 2009, Dr. Hackman was awarded a Research Fellowship with the Great Place to Work Institute and has developed corporate training rubrics that combine her social justice content with GPTWI’s “trust” frameworks. She has sat on the board of Minnesota NAME as president and the board of Rainbow Families, has served on numerous committees committed to multicultural and social justice work, and since 2012 has served as a member of the Advisory Council for the White Privilege Conference. Recent research and conference presentations have focused on climate change and its intersections with issues of race, class and gender.

When discussing social justice, Dr. Hackman points out that the phrase has been used so much this last decade it has lost some of the precision of its meaning, which in turn has led to a watering down of its efficacy. In her DWDI session, Dr. Hackman will address the question “What is ‘social justice’?” and then examine its application in three key areas: educators’ capacity to self-reflect critically in their role as educators, the pedagogical implementation of social justice across all academic disciplines, and the indispensability of social justice in any 21st century higher education environment.

More specifically, Dr. Hackman will begin her presentation/workshop with a clear commentary about what social justice education is and is not within educational institutions. She will then present a “social justice self-reflection matrix” for educators, describe a handful of social justice case studies from across university curricula to illustrate how they can incorporate social justice into their courses, and provide a summary of how social justice frameworks shape 21st century higher education in critical ways.

Because this session is both content-driven and interactive, participants will be able to engage with the content and with each other. They will have the opportunity to draw from their own experience, whether they are faculty members, staff or students, as they consider how to implement the principles and strategies Dr. Hackman will discuss.

Wednesday, May 14 Major Presenters

Dr. David Stovall and Mr. Shaka Rawls: “Making Social Justice Education Tangible”

Dr. David Stovall, a faculty member in the departments of Educational Policy and African American Studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and Mr. Shaka Rawls, an educational consultant, will address the issue of social justice in education from their perspectives as activists as well as academics, as individuals as well as community members. They will speak from their experience as involved members of the African American communities in Chicago and from their research in educational policy.

In the context of a rapidly changing globalized educational system and evolving challenges in education, Dr. Stovall and Mr. Rawls will deconstruct social justice education, making applications tangible. The challenges have created new situations that have complicated how educators understand social justice and undercut its importance for some in the face of pressure to implement “the common core.”
Dr. Stovall will begin with an introduction to popular terms, jargon, and buzzwords associated with social justice curriculums and situate them in their current context.  Mr. Rawls will then develop these definitions from theory to praxis.  He will contextualize social justice not only as a theory but, as a guiding philosophical ideology. Finally, Dr. Stovall will explain how communities have resisted and made demands on what justice means in the context of their lives, making a clear understanding of community conditions an essential baseline for educators doing any type of justice work.

Professor Stovall, a University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign alumnus, “studies the influence of race in urban education, community development, and housing. His work investigates the significance of race in the quality of schools located in communities that are changing both racially and economically. From a practical and theoretical perspective, his research draws from Critical Race Theory, educational policy analysis, sociology, urban planning, political science, community organizing, and youth culture.” Besides his responsibilities at UIC, he teaches social studies at the Greater Lawndale/Little Village School of Social Justice High School and is a member of the school’s design team.

Mr. Rawl is completing a dissertation in Educational Policy Analysis at the UIC. His research focuses on the intersections of high risk communities and their impact on Chicago’s turnaround school improvement efforts. His interests “reach across both the historical/philosophical discourse of urban education and the practical skills needed to be an agent of change.” He co-founded IMPACT, (Inspiring Motivating, Positive Actions for City Teens), a not-for-profit organization that focuses on student-teacher interaction, community development, and conflict resolution.


Dr. Tracy Davis and Dr. Rachel Wagner: “Choosing Love and Abundance:  Personal Transformations to Advance Social Justice”

Wednesday afternoon, May 14, at noon, Dr. Tracy Davis and Dr. Rachel Wagner will discuss their long collaboration on a variety of projects identified with social justice within the academic world, most significantly as activists interested in student life at colleges and universities.

When describing their DWDI presentation, Drs. Davis and Wagner began by noting that the “great jazz artist Miles Davis is known for his emphasis on ‘the silence between the notes.’” He insisted "It’s not the notes you play; it’s the notes you don’t play." Drs. Davis and Wagner agree that when promoting social justice, advocates often focus too much on the notes and not the space between, on content at the expense of process. Often they also forget to attend mindfully to positionality, to their own and another’s lived experience and identity.  Lots of space exists between individuals’ perceptions and others' realities. In many instances, the space between speaking and listening, between empathy and one’s own pain, and between personal lived experiences and abstract (often veiled) institutional-level policies, practices, and procedures remains unexplored.

Both presenters will draw from their experience, their research, and from the friendship they've constructed over the past 15 years as they've negotiated a space between them that is permeated by power, privilege, and difference.  They have found that tensions and disagreements were often rooted in their different positions, requiring an empathic negotiation between subordination and privilege. Despite their love and respect for each other as friends and colleagues, identities and social realities complicated their interactions, pulling at their loyalties or urging them to reconstruct their discussions to fit their existing mental frameworks. They have struggled with the need to have their different social and cultural experiences validated and understood and have chosen at times to disengage from their discussions to seek others whose experiences more closely mirror their own. They have, however, remained committed to their interaction with each other and have resisted the urge to negate the other’s perspectives or suggestions, turning instead toward larger and more imaginative thinking. The result has been a renewed commitment to their own “unfinishedness” and a willingness to understand, empathize, and act in ways that reflect other aspects of their commitment to social justice initiatives.

Dr. Davis is a professor and coordinator of the College Student Personnel graduate program at Western Illinois University and also serves as director of the Center for the Study of Masculinities and Men's Development. He earned his doctorate of philosophy in student development in post-secondary education (1997) from the University of Iowa and has published widely on men's development, sexual assault prevention and social justice. His publications include two books he co-authored, the monograph Developing Social Justice Allies and Advancing Social Justice: Tools, Pedagogies, and Strategies to Transform Your Campus. He has co-edited Masculinities in Higher Education: Theoretical and Practical Considerations.

Rachel Wagner, Associate Director of Residence Life for Iowa State University’s Department of Residence, recently completed doctoral studies in Social Justice Education at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst after effectively defending her doctoral dissertation, "Safe Space for Hard Conversations: College Men's Experience in Diversity Education.”  She earned her BA in American Studies and her MA in Education in College Personnel from the University of Dayton where she also served as Director of Residence Life before her move to ISU. Dr. Wagner has frequently made presentations and served on panels at the annual American College Personnel Association Meeting and contributed to anthologies, focusing primarily on social justice, masculinity, and issues related to male college students.

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