If we can’t talk about a problem, then we can’t address it. And, while it can be uncomfortable to discuss difficult things, those types of conversations are critical to finding solutions. That’s why the College of Charleston is launching the Critical Conversations initiative to help get the campus community talking about issues of race and equity and what can be done both in and out of the classroom to address them.
With a new website (inclusion.cofc.edu) highlighting campus events, programs, resources, and diversity and inclusion–focused curricula, Critical Conversations aims to elevate the campus discussion and collaboration over a wide range of topics from civil rights issues to equity in education to Black history, among many others.
“We are excited to share with you the new Critical Conversations website,” says Suzanne Austin, provost and executive vice president of academic affairs. “As you will see, Critical Conversations are taking place across the College and beyond. Our intent is to create a hub – or one-stop shop – for the many activities and resources related to important issues that matter to our campus community. Critical Conversations is not intended to duplicate, but rather to amplify and promote the great work of students, faculty and staff at CofC.”
As part of the initiative, Rénard Harris, vice president of access and inclusion and chief diversity officer, will host a discussion series called Beyond DiversityEDU, which will support the College’s new diversity training program DiversityEDU. The first discussion, titled “Men of Color in the Classroom,” will take place at noon on Oct. 13, 2020, via Zoom. The conversation will feature students in the Call Me MISTER Program, which supports male minority students who choose to major in education, as well as program director Anthony James. Harris will host a second discussion via Zoom at noon on Oct. 20, 2020, titled “Inclusion and Bias at CofC.”
“We will use DiversityEDU as a springboard for the discussions because we want to encourage all faculty, staff and students to take the module and immerse the topics and information into their daily roles and responsibilities,” says Harris. “The Beyond DiversityEDU talks are about how diversity, equity and inclusion live on the campus and in the classroom, and what actions and initiatives we need to give it even more life. It’s more than discussing it one time as a class assignment, it’s about how it lives and breathes daily in every class and in every environment on campus.”
The goal of Critical Conversations as a whole, says Harris, is to share ideas and perspectives to help the College move toward being a more diverse and inclusive campus.
“The true purpose is for the dialogue to lead to action,” he says.
CofC community members may register for the inaugural Beyond DiversityEDU conversation on Oct. 13 via this zoom meeting form. A separate form must be used to register for the Oct. 20 event.