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Minnesota State University, Mankato

Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Multicultural Affairs Conference looks at Diversity

Speaker says it's important to ask tough questions.

2012-11-16
Amanda Dyslin, Mankato Free Press, 11-16-2012

Carl Grant, a keynote speaker at the first Multicultural Affairs Conference Thursday, asked audience members to look within.

In the Centennial Student Union Ballroom at Minnesota State University, Grant asked, “What does it take for you, for all of us, to push toward a flourishing life?”

Self-assessment, he said, is No. 1.

In his address, “Changing Faces, But Too Many Old Ideas: Cultivating Social Justice & Flourishing Lives,” Grant told audi­ence members to ask themselves a few questions. How do I feel about gay and lesbian people? African Americans? Native Americans?

“How do I go into the very dark corners of my mind and ask myself some tough questions?” said Grant, Hoefs-Bascom professor of teacher education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

With numerous quotes from civil rights activists serving as examples, Grant raised numerous questions throughout his lecture, providing audience members with important issues to consider and asking them what they plan to do about their answers. Will you choose to pursue a liberal arts education? Will you talk to your neighbor about their beliefs? How do you intend to practice democracy? “You need to fig­ure out what justice means for you,” he said. Questioning is one step. Action is the next, Grant said. Throughout the lecture Grant insisted on audi­ence participation, having members turn to their “elbow neighbor” and ask their take-away from the discussion.

At the end, he asked one last question of audience members. “So what are you going to do?”

Oscar Gonzalez, a graduate assis­tant in the Latino Affairs office, said his takeaway was to ask him­self what skills he has and what he’s lacking to better serve students he advises.

“So I think flourishing means bettering yourself, and in that sense, you’ll better your communi­ty, too,” he said.

Grant was one of the first presen­ters of the two- day conference, themed “Changing Faces in Higher Education,” which continues 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. today at MSU.

The goal of the new conference is to provide forums for students, prac­titioners, profes­sionals and com­munity members to discuss educa­tional and diversi­ty issues, as well as share best prac­tices for serving students of color.

Sessions today also will continue to address the shift in college demographics relating to American Indians, African Americans, Latinos and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders.

The entire version of this story can be read in a print copy of the Mankato Free Press. Call the Mankato Free Press at 625-4451 or (800) 657-4662 to find out how to purchase a print copy. The Free Press also prints select stories online at www.mankatofreepress.com.

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