Title

Think D.I.F.: Cultivating Diversity, Inclusion, and Fairness in Learning Communities

First Presenter's Institution

Georgia Southern University

Second Presenter's Institution

N/A

Third Presenter's Institution

N/A

Fourth Presenter's Institution

N/A

Fifth Presenter's Institution

N/A

Location

Harborside East & West

Strand #1

Social & Emotional Skills

Relevance

"Heart": Social & Emotional Skills

This workshop will help educators improve school climate by giving them tools to have important conversations. This will empower them to cultivate diverse, inclusive, and fair spaces for all students and create a sense of community in classrooms and schools. Additionally, it will also cover topics that will enhance multicultural education, communication skills, and cultural diversity.

Brief Program Description

Empathy is an essential tool for untangling the complex web of social and cultural forces that continue to reproduce compounded inequality. In this interactive session participants will be challenged to Think D.I.F.ferently by 1.) examining how implicit bias, stereotype threat, and cumulative inequality shape our outcomes, 2.) exploring cognitive, affective, and behavioral barriers to cultivating diverse, inclusive, and fair (D.I.F.) spaces, and 3.) discussing the role that shame and empathy play in cultivating D.I.F. spaces.

Summary

Empathy is an essential tool for untangling the complex web of social and cultural forces that continue to reproduce compounded inequality. We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them (Einstein). Participants will explore the relationship between their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors; they will also examine the role they play in cultivating diverse, inclusive, and fair spaces that produce equitable outcomes. Participants will also have the opportunity to engage in experiential activities, dialogue, and content that promote constructive discomfort, vulnerability, and introspection. The session will expose participants to concepts and theories related to stereotype threat, implicit bias, social inequality, psychotherapy, complex adaptive systems, shame, and empathy. Our work is influenced by the works of Drs. Claude Steele, Jennifer Richeson, Rachel Godsil, Brene Brown, Howard Ross, Joy DeGruy Leary, and Carol Dweck. Resources for the continued exploration of these topics and approaches will be provided.

Learning Objectives: After attending this session participants should be able to…

  1. Discuss potential costs and benefits diversity, inclusion, and fairness (D.I.F.).

  2. Identify dimensions of their identity and examine their relationship with compounded social inequality

  3. Describe the complex interrelationship between implicit bias, stereotype threat, and compounded social inequality.

  4. Discuss the role shame and empathy in cultivating D.I.F. spaces.

Evidence

Empathy

Dr. Brene Brown asserts that empathy and shame are on opposite ends of a continuum. Shame results in fear, blame (of self or others), and disconnection. Empathy is cultivated by courage, compassion, and connection, and is the most powerful antidote to shame. Brown references Theresa Wiseman’s four defining attributes of empathy:

  • to be able to see the world as others see it

  • to be nonjudgmental

  • to understand another person’s feelings

  • to communicate your understanding of that person’s feelings

Brown defines empathy as a skill, and so she stresses actively practicing giving and receiving empathy."

Shame

Shame is an emergent outcome that occurs when individuals fear that they are unworthy of interpersonal connection with significant others (e.g. authority figures, potential friends, classmates, etc.) Dr. Brene Brown describes shame as “that warm feeling that washes over us, making us feel small, flawed, and never good enough...the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.” Here are the first three things that to know about shame:

  1. We all have it. Shame is universal and one of the most primitive human emotions that we experience. The only people who don’t experience shame lack the capacity for empathy and human connection.

  2. We’re all afraid to talk about shame.

  3. The less we talk about shame, the more control it has over our lives.

Shame is what keeps us from having meaningful conversations about difference. Empathy is the antidote to shame; it creates opportunities for the compassion and understanding necessary for connection across difference. Shame is what hinders us from engaging in the iterative process of self-reflection, learning, and practice required for understanding how things like implicit bias, stereotype threat, and cumulative inequality shape our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

Implicit Bias

Also known as implicit social cognition, implicit bias refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. These biases, which encompass both favorable and unfavorable assessments, are activated involuntarily and without an individual’s awareness or intentional control. Residing deep in the subconscious, these biases are different from known biases that individuals may choose to conceal for the purposes of social and/or political correctness. Rather, implicit biases are not accessible through introspection.

The implicit associations we harbor in our subconscious cause us to have feelings and attitudes about other people based on characteristics such as race, ethnicity, age, and appearance. These associations develop over the course of a lifetime beginning at a very early age through exposure to direct and indirect messages. In addition to early life experiences, the media and news programming are often-cited origins of implicit associations.

http://kirwaninstitute.osu.edu/research/understanding-implicit-bias/

Cumulative Inequality

Some of the messages we’ve received in the form of American ideals (i.e. equality, justice, and meritocracy) make it difficult to engage in productive conversations about social change and fairness. The messages we receive are pervasive and tend to uplift dominant groups with respect to race, ethnicity, gender, class, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, ability, etc. while simultaneously oppressing the social capital of non-dominant groups. Cumulative inequality (CI) theory articulates how life course trajectories are influenced by early and accumulated inequalities but can be modified by available resources, perceived trajectories, and human agency. Ferraro & Shippee specify that social systems generate inequality, which is manifested over the life course via demographic and developmental processes, and that personal trajectories are shaped by the accumulation of risk, available resources, perceived trajectories, and human agency.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2721665/

Stereotype Threat

Implicit social biases layered with cumulative inequality and its accompanying messages can lead to stereotyping (i.e. fixed overgeneralizations of an entire group) and ultimately Stereotype Threat. Stereotype Threat is the depression in performance that is activated in individuals when they are in a setting that causes them to worry about confirming a negative stereotype about a group to which they belong (Steele & Aronson, 2011). For example, If a student is one of the few in a given area, and if that student’s identity is salient because of stereotypes that exist around his or her identity, that can depresses performance because it preoccupies cognitive capacities. The anxiety that accompanies Stereotype Threat is correlated with shame and can lead to disconnection and isolation. Empathy is integral for reducing the effects of Stereotype Threat.

http://reducingstereotypethreat.org/mechanisms.html

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

John O. Nwosu, Jr. is originally from Austell, GA. He currently serves as the Student Engagement Coordinator for Student Support Services at Georgia Southern University. He holds his Professional School Counselor certification and works as an associate counselor for Brave Tomorrow Counseling and Consulting in Statesboro, GA. He graduated from Georgia Southern University with Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry in 2012 and his Master of Education in School Counseling in 2014. He enjoys working with kids of all ages and has experience training and developing educators on topics including leadership, organizational development, diversity, inclusion, and fairness.

Keyword Descriptors

Stereotype Threat, Implicit Bias, Inequality, Power, Complex Systems, Privilege, Difference, Shame, Empathy, Vulnerability

Presentation Year

2017

Start Date

3-7-2017 4:00 PM

End Date

3-7-2017 5:30 PM

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Mar 7th, 4:00 PM Mar 7th, 5:30 PM

Think D.I.F.: Cultivating Diversity, Inclusion, and Fairness in Learning Communities

Harborside East & West

Empathy is an essential tool for untangling the complex web of social and cultural forces that continue to reproduce compounded inequality. In this interactive session participants will be challenged to Think D.I.F.ferently by 1.) examining how implicit bias, stereotype threat, and cumulative inequality shape our outcomes, 2.) exploring cognitive, affective, and behavioral barriers to cultivating diverse, inclusive, and fair (D.I.F.) spaces, and 3.) discussing the role that shame and empathy play in cultivating D.I.F. spaces.