Conference scheduled to encourage diversity

The One Great Challenge Conference: Learning Together in the New Millennium will take place in the RUC on Tuesday, April 7. The conference aims to explore successful strategies for administrators, teachers and students committed to fostering diversity and culture in schools. Co-sponsored by Minority Affairs, the Honors Program and the Diversity, Equality and Access Council, the conference is aimed towards educators and students of primary, secondary and university education. (paradiseweddingchapel.com) It will focus on pedagogical approaches to education and serving underrepresented groups.

While almost everyone can agree that diversity makes for a richer educational experience, it is the creating and maintaining a diverse environment can be a challenge. The conference will look beyond the mere celebration of diversity and addresses real life situations.

“With this conference, our main goal is to explore diversity and multiculturalism beyond the general politically correct crusting that we see everyday,” Robert Owens, director of Minority Affairs, said. “There will be both professors and students from across the state presenting both theoretical and practical examples of what diversity and multiculturalism are and how they look in action.”

“We will discuss concrete ways that can help conversation [of diversity] continue,” Rita Barnes, director of the Honors Program, said. “We want to make that commitment concrete.”

Panels and workshops at the conference include, “Building Diverse Learning Communities,” “Understanding Islam and Your Muslim Students,” “Why Who Teaches Matters,” “Do Justice: Service Learning for a Diverse World Beyond Campus,” and “What’s Wrong with African Studies, Women’s Studies, Asian Studies?”

Feature speakers are Rita Geier and Finnie Coleman.

Geier, the associate to the chancellor at the Howard Baker Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville, works to promote diversity goals and intercultural public policy. Her keynote address will be presented at 9 a.m.

Coleman, director of African American and Africana studies at the University of New Mexico, has worked on research projects recovering lost or marginalized African American literature. His keynote address will occur during the luncheon at noon.

“The more students we have participate, the better,” Owens said. “As our world becomes more diverse by the day it is our duty as an institution of higher learning to train our faculty and staff and prepare our students to be successful in just such an environment.”

Registration will begin at 8 a.m. Fees are $10 for students and $35 for non-students. For more information about the conference or to register, visitwww.tntech.edu/onegreatchallenge.