Facilitated diversity discussions: Rewarding and thought-provoking

It can be intimidating talking with a group of people, especially when the group’s members are new to you. But there can be great rewards for doing so. When the discussion leader is experienced at guiding conversation toward realization and discovery, the resulting enlightenment helps to quickly dispel initial worries.

Cornell’s Alliance for Diversity and Inclusion (ADI) is midway through this year’s schedule of facilitated discussions about diversity-related topics. Since the initial session occurred in October, 35 members of the Cornell community have thoughtfully engaged with topics including racism, micro-inequities, unconscious bias, and disability bias.

As one attendee said, “The best way to get your mind expanded is to participate in a live event with colleagues from different backgrounds.  It is a safe environment to discuss difficult topics.”

The facilitators, who have decades of experience navigating complex issues and viewpoints relating to diversity and are dedicated to fostering impactful and constructive discussion, include Cornell Woodson, Associate Director, Diversity and Inclusion, ILR; Gerald Hector, Vice President for Financial Affairs; Angela Winfield, Director, Inclusion and Workforce Diversity; Erin Sember-Chase, Assistant Director, Student Disability Services; and Gregory Eells, Ph.D., Director, Cornell Health Services.

Another attendee said, “I was a little nervous about how the experience would go, since these can be sensitive subjects. Within a few minutes, I could see that the facilitator would make sure we had a real conversation, while keeping it a positive experience.”

There are still a few sessions remaining. If you have been considering attending one, we encourage you to give it a try. You might be surprised to find how broadening and enriching the experience can be.

Disability Inclusiveness, with Angela Winfield, March 8, 2017
Diversity and Leadership in Higher Education, with Gerald Hector, April 11, 2017
Genuine Conversation: Racism and Inequity, with Greg Eells, Ph. D, February 7, 2017 and April 5, 2017

More information about these sessions and the self-guided learning opportunities, along with instructions for registering for both, are available on the ADI website at adi.cornell.edu/training/2016-2017-training/ .

Still not sure? Try warming up by watching an entertaining video, “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Discussing Race,” a Ted Talk by Jay Smooth:

If you have any difficulty registering for a session, please email us at adi@cornell.edu .

Thank you for your participation.
The Alliance for Diversity and Inclusion Committee