Noteworthy News

Inclusion, difficult conversations subject of upcoming workshops for faculty, staff

As part of Western Carolina University’s ongoing efforts toward improving the campus climate on the issues of race, diversity and inclusion, the Coulter Faculty Commons and Office of Intercultural Affairs will host a series of activities leading into the fall semester that are designed to equip faculty and staff with skills to help them tackle the often-tricky subjects.

The “Inclusion and Difficult Conversations” series will begin Monday, May 2, with three discussion-based “snack and learn” sessions aimed at helping participants learn how to facilitate difficult conversations. The 90-minute workshops will examine topics of self-awareness, aiding the conversation and creating space.

Sessions will be held from 3:30-5 p.m. Monday, May 2; noon-1:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 4; and 9:30-11 a.m. Thursday, May 5. All sessions will take place in the Catamount Room of A.K. Hinds University Center.

Similar sessions will be scheduled the week before the opening of the fall semester, Aug. 15-19.

The schedule of activities also includes a series of summer informational workshops on the subject “Viewpoints on Difficult Conversations.” The sessions, to be held in June and July, may be attended in person, online or via video archive.

Staff members from Intercultural Affairs will provide information about the office’s services and activities to incoming faculty members as part of new faculty orientation, set for Aug. 11-12.

Intercultural Affairs also will host a “Courageous Conversations” series throughout the fall semester, which is designed to help faculty members and students participate in meaningful classroom discussions on issues of race, diversity and inclusion.

The upcoming activities are coming in the wake of anonymous postings on social media platforms and chalked messages on campus sidewalks in March. Some of the social media postings have contained language deemed racist, hurtful, offensive and frightening to many members of the campus community.

The university held a series of campus conversations about issues of race, diversity and civil discourse throughout the month of April. Among the suggestions that came out of those conversations was the need for additional faculty and staff training on how to talk about those issues with other members of the campus community.

For more information about the “Inclusion and Difficult Conversations” series, contact Coulter Faculty Commons at 828-227-7196.

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