University News

Dealing with Difference Institute at WIU May 13-14

April 7, 2014

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MACOMB, IL -- Western Illinois University will host the 21st annual Dealing with Difference Institute Tuesday-Wednesday, May 13-14 in the Multicultural Center on the Macomb campus. This year's theme is "Social Justice and Education."

The purpose of the institute is to assist educators at all levels in responding to the opportunities and challenges of an increasingly diverse world. Speakers include Heather Hackman, social justice activist and consultant; Tracy Davis, professor and coordinator of the College Student Personnel graduate program at WIU; Rachel Wagner, associate director of residence life at Iowa State University; David Stovall, professor of educational policy and African American studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago; and Shaka Rawls, an educational consultant.

Hackman will open the institute Tuesday, May 13 at 1:15 p.m. with "Social Justice Education: An Indispensable Element in 21st Century Education." The presentation/workshop will provide participants an overview of the role of social justice in education, from the university level to the elementary and secondary levels.

Hackman is a graduate of the social justice education program at University of Massachusetts Amherst. She has taught social justice issues for several years, last serving as a professor in St. Cloud State University's Department of Human Relations and Multicultural Education for 12 years before founding her own firm. In 2009, 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 the institute's "trust" frameworks.

Stovall and Rawls will present "Making Social Justice Education Tangible" beginning at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, May 14. The pair will speak from their experience as involved members of the African American communities in Chicago and from their research in educational policy. Stovall 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. In addition to his work at UIC, he teaches social studies at the Greater Lawndale/Little Village School of Social Justice High School. Rawls 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. Rawls is the co-founder of IMPACT (Inspiring Motivating, Positive Actions for City Teens), a not-for-profit organization that focuses on student-teacher interaction, community development and conflict resolution.

Davis and Wagner will present "Choosing Love and Abundance: Personal Transformations to Advance Social Justice" from 12:30-1:45 p.m. May 14. Taking a lesson from jazz artist Miles Davis once said, "It's not the notes you play; it's the notes you don't play," Davis and Wagner will discuss that often, during the promotion of social justice, advocates often focus too much on the notes and not the space between, or on content at the expense of process. They will draw from their research and from the friendship they've constructed over the past 15 years as they've negotiated a space permeated by power, privilege and difference. In addition to serving as a professor at WIU, Davis is the director of the Center for the Study of Masculinities and Men's Development. He has published widely on men's development, sexual assault prevention and social justice. Wagner recently completed doctoral studies in Social Justice Education at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Wagner has frequently presented 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.

Additional sessions are scheduled during both days, including a dinner and sharing of social justice stories at the WIU Alumni House concluding Tuesday, and break-out sessions, "call to action" discussions and a celebratory closing Wednesday.

Funding from the Expanding Cultural Diversity Project at Western allows WIU faculty, staff and students to attend the institute at no cost (with the exception of the $15 fee for the Tuesday evening dinner). To facilitate planning, registration is required by Tuesday, May 6. Registration and fees for the general public and nonstudents, $25 (by May 6; $35 after May 6); students, $10 (by May 6; $20 after May 6), and an additional $40 for all meals and refreshments, including the May 13 dinner (dinner only, $15; $25 for breakfast and lunch only May 14).

A complete schedule and registration forms are available at and at For more information, contact DWDI Co-Coordinators Janice Welsch at and Gloria Delany-Barmann at or Tammy LaPrad at

The Dealing with Difference Institute is sponsored by Western's Expanding Cultural Diversity Project and the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Research, the Illinois Association for Cultural Diversity and the Hancock/McDonough Regional Office of Education.

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