URI to celebrate 14th Annual Diversity Week, Oct. 4-8

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KINGSTON, R.I. — September 27, 2010 — The University of Rhode Island will hold its 14th Annual Diversity Week on Monday-Friday, Oct. 4-8, on the Kingston Campus. The events are designed for members and friends of the academic community to learn, interact, live, work, and play in a diverse, interconnected, and globalized world. URI Diversity Week will present more than 60 events – workshops, lectures, video screenings, book discussions, musical performances, group meditations, and a culture show – over the five days.

All events are free and open to the public. For a complete schedule of the week’s activities, visit the URI Multicultural Center website to download a booklet of all events or view the booklet online!.

The program will examine international, national, and regional issues, such as the role of “human capability” development, biodiversity, and cultural diversity in creating a sustainable world; the opportunities and dangers posed by the new science of genomics in changing conceptions of race and medicine; the societal advantages of building diversity in the health care, business, and science workforces; the impact of Latino immigration, LGBTQ status, disability, culture, religion, and war on the changing American identity; the design of a 21st century curriculum for URI addressing the needs of a changing population; strategies for improving personal and group health, wellness, and communication among diverse populations through meditation, exercise, dialogue, and the arts and humanities; diversifying the pathways to student success for all; and the pursuit of social justice at home and abroad.

The week’s events are sponsored by Lifespan, the College of the Environment and Life Sciences, MetLife Auto & Home, the Multicultural Center, the Diversity Week Planning Committee, the Office of Student Life, and ProChange Behavior Systems.


Watch some of these events online at URI Live!

At 1 PM on Monday, Oct. 4, University Provost Donald DeHayes and Vice Provost Laura Beauvais will head a panel of faculty that will discuss the University’s vision for academic excellence based on a 21st century curriculum grounded in principles of multicultural competence. Other events will include two panels to promote diversity in graduate studies at URI, headed by Dr. Nasser Zawia, Dean, Graduate School; a panel of local Latino business leaders, including Ingrid Tolentino, a MetLife Auto & Home Vice President; a presentation on the Narragansett cultural legacy in Rhode Island by Loren Spears, Director, Tomaquag Indian Memorial Museum; a commentary by a professor and political activist on the effects of anti-Hispanic bias fueled by the passage of a law against undocumented immigration in Arizona.

On Tuesday, in collaboration with the 2010 URI Honors Colloquium Series on RACE, Dr. Duana Fullwiley, Assistant Professor, Medical Anthropology, and African and African-American Studies, Harvard University, will present “Race, Identity, and Medical Genomics in the Obama Age”. Other events include a workshop on African drumming featuring Obuamah Addy, a member of a distinguished family of drummers from Ghana; facilitated small-group discussions between student senators and their constituents about improving the benefits of campus diversity for all; simulation exercises to help students experience disability through diverse perspectives; an information session on summer travel to Ghana; conversations about anti-Latino immigration discourse; diversity within religious traditions; the “marriage equality” movement; the intergenerational legacy of climate change; the reintegration of military veterans into universities; students as agents of social change; the enhancement of support for diverse athletes on college campuses; and the protest movement for political freedom in Ukraine.

The focus of Wednesday will be on the College of Environment and Life Sciences’ (CELS) Diversity Day. Weaving activities around the theme, “Shared Planet, Shared Resources,” CELS Diversity Day will feature an array of sustainability workshops by faculty and staff experts and students on topics, such as current outreach initiatives to fisheries in west Africa and to other sites for developing countries; the integration of local knowledge to help communities design their own sustainable solutions; the status of “green” development in South Africa; the endangering of plant species and their significance for maintaining human health; and strategies for conserving energy. Students will also be invited to reinforce their understanding of the theme by participating in a “shared planet, shared resources” luncheon and round table discussion; a hands-on harvest activity at the URI Agronomy Farm; walking tours of the URI Botanical Gardens; and conversations with international graduate students and undergraduate student clubs about their perspectives on sustainability and diversity.

CELS’ Diversity Day will culminate with the presentation of the URI Lifespan Keynote Address, “The New Genomics, Changing Conceptions of ‘Race’, and the Dawn of Personalized Medicine” by Dr. Esteban Gonzalez Burchard, Associate Professor, Medicine and Biopharmaceutical Sciences, University of California, San Francisco. Other events include a panel discussion on health care disparities and the control of women’s lives headed by Dr. Marie Schwartz, Professor, History, and a prominent antebellum scholar; a popular Lifespan-sponsored lecture on innovative transfusion-free surgery being practiced at Rhode Island Hospital; and workshops on Rwandans healing from the trauma of genocide through the arts and community collaboration and on the reduction of everyday stress in daily lives; and a staged reading of a new play about the British abolitionist and feminist actress Fanny Kemble, and her courageous struggle against slavery and chauvinism.

Several of Thursday’s events address the needs and issues of college students – a popular interactive discussion about the importance of women in hip-hop music and culture by URI alum, Kalyana Champlain, M. A., ’10; a popular panel of perspectives shared by diverse members of the URI community on diversity in their lives; a round table discussion on Hope In the Unseen, the book selected for freshman reading; a video and discussion about the plight of diverse undocumented youth born in the United States and facing possible deportation; a facilitated dialogue project open to all interested students; a staged reading of oral history narratives collected from older members of the LGBTQ community in Rhode Island; a popular culture show representing the Seven Continents; and a conversation about the opportunity of “studying away” at another American university. Participants also will have options to practice yoga in the Ashtanga tradition; be introduced to Armenian dance; attend a community in support of young children; or join with URI professors in singing songs for social justice in the United States. The day will be culminated by two readings from her works by prize-winning Jewish author and writer-in-residence Joan Leegant.

On Friday, URI Diversity Week concludes with a workshop assessing the impact of the European economic crisis on the U. S. economy by Dr. Gordon Dash, Professor, Finance and Decision Sciences, a scholar on international monetary policy; and a workshop sponsored by MetLife Auto & Home that focuses on preparing college students for the diverse business workforce of the 21st century through internships via Inroads, one of the nation’s leading organizations promoting minority workforce readiness.
Other events include workshops exploring factors that are highly predictive of college persistence among diverse undergraduates at URI; analyzing barriers to building a diverse workforce in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics; promoting equity in early childhood education for diverse children; achieving emotional balance and well-being by mastering techniques for meditation and for “living in the present moment”; understanding the support needs of LGBTQ students of color, and of students with Asperger’s Syndrome; discussing the movement to take individual responsibility for maintaining health and fitness; and comparing the generational characteristics of recent college students. Students also will be invited to participate in a URI Diversity Week Focus Group.