UofL’s Cultural Center kicks off its inaugural Diversity Dialogue Series Tuesday, Sept. 20, at 5 p.m. in Chao Auditorium. The first of three programs will be presented by Marian Vasser, director for diversity and inclusive excellence at UofL, who will speak on the topic “Cultural Appropriation or Cultural Appreciation.”
Dominique McShan, program coordinator of multicultural programming and organizations, explains that “cultural appreciation” is learning about another culture with “respect and courtesy,” while cultural appropriation is “when a person takes something with cultural significance from another culture for their own, but doesn’t respect or understand the cultural significance that something has.”
“Cultural appreciation is appreciating a certain culture enough to take time to learn about it, interact with people among the culture and actually understand the culture,” he said. “Cultural appropriation is when someone only claims to ‘like’ the culture because of what they can gain from it, and often exploit it.”
This is the first year for the Diversity Dialogue series. Prior to this semester, the Cultural Center organized Cultural Competency workshops which were formal lunch lectures around research and literature reflecting diversity and social justice issues. The original Cultural Competency Workshop Series began in Fall 2014.
The program was revamped this year in an effort to turn these formal workshops into less formal, more conversational dialogues that are inclusive of a larger variety of topics, according to McShan.
“Our hope is that this new approach will provide attendees with an opportunity to be engaged and contribute to these discussions, and consequently gain a deeper understanding from these conversations,” he said.
The Cultural Center will continue its Diversity Dialogue Series Oct. 18 at 12 p.m. with a discussion on “Equity vs. Equality,” presented by Dr. Ahmad Washington, assistant professor in the College of Education and Human Development. This presentation will take place in the Cultural Center.
The series will conclude Nov. 17 at noon with a talk on “LGBTQ Support, Advocacy and Allyism,” by Brian Buford, assistant provost for diversity and LGBT Center director. This discussion will also be held in the Cultural Center.
“We picked these three topics to kick off the Diversity Dialogue series because these topics are diversity issues that affect individuals across many identities, such as race, ethnicity, sexuality, geographic origin, etc.,” McShan said.
The ultimate goal for this first year, he adds, is to increase the cultural competence and understanding of diversity issues among students, faculty, staff and community members.
For more information on the Diversity Dialogue Series, visit the Cultural Center online.