The turbulence, often in the form of conflict, that schools from K-12 and higher education institutions have been experiencing over the past several months is well-documented. Anxiety over a variety of issues is high, and the need to encourage and support safe, respectful dialogue about these concerns, and the various viewpoints that are behind concerns, is urgent.
At Keene State College (KSC), as well around the country, there was a sense that people on all sides of the political spectrum felt concerns that needed to be expressed. A greater sense of safety and support is critical during these times. Rather than ignoring the thoughts and feelings that a campus community has, it is more important than ever to create platforms for communication. We posed the question: “How can we transform theory, values, and beliefs into actions in an effort to create a campus environment rooted in civility and mutual respect that honors the significance of difference?”
The Keene State community pulled together to answer this question. One of the popular suggestions was to have an “old school” teach-in.
The teach-in was held February 1. There were 38 sessions held that day, involving more than 60 faculty, staff and students. Panels, discussions and workshops included topics such as immigration, civics, self-care, bystander intervention, the political environment, social justice/social action, and two student panels representing the Holocaust and Genocide Studies club and the KSC Republicans discussed campus culture.
Lessons we learned:
Dr. Dottie Morris is associate vice president for institutional diversity and equity at Keene State College and Dr. Celia Rabinowitz is the college’s dean of Mason Library.
Could training in implicit bias be helpful at your institution?