Cultural Conversations Series
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Wednesday, October 30, 2013
at 4:00 PM
Tomson Hall 212
Web Link:
Lynn Stenstrom


"Is It Really Necessary to Feel Uncomfortable?" Facilitated by Professor Kristina Medina-Vilarino

Have you ever been in a classroom where your professor expects you to discuss a topic that makes you feel uncomfortable? Have you ever heard someone say that "you must get comfortable feeling uncomfortable in order to change things?" Have you ever wondered if there is an ideal way to bring up controversial topics in class, in a neutral and respectful, yet open and powerful way? In this cultural conversation we will explore the following question: Is it really necessary to feel uncomfortable when discussing "sensitive" and "controversial" topics? Other questions to be considered are: What are some of the topics that are "too sensitive" to discuss in a classroom? What exactly makes a certain topic "controversial" or "sensitive?" What are some of your experiences with these kinds of discussions in class? Have you considered more effective ways to discuss them in a big heterogeneous group? What are some of the key factors that need to be taken into account when facilitating and planning this type of discussion? What suggestions would you give to professors, administrators, staff, colleagues, and friends, in order to make these instances ones of high impact for everyone? How can we, as members of the St Olaf community and global citizens, account for diversity, yet achieve practical results via these discussions? Our ultimate objective is to create an open dialog that (a) can facilitate learning opportunities in a multicultural campus, (b) exploit the potential of multicultural sensitivity to extend beyond the classroom experience, and (c) create a more inclusive environment for everyone at St Olaf as a microcosmos.

This is the second in the Cultural Conversations Series sponsored by the Office of Multicultural Affairs, allowing students to engage in conversations with their peers.

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