On Friday, September 10, the Department of Educational Leadership and Cultural Foundations (ELC) presented this year’s virtual Critical Conversations Conference keynote address on Educational Leadership for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. The keynote speakers were Dr. Sarah Diem and Dr. Anjalé D. Welton, nationally known experts in equity-focused educational leadership and authors of the award-winning book Anti-Racist Educational Leadership and Policy.
Dr. Sarah Diem is Professor at the University of Missouri. She researches the social, political, and geographic contexts of education, focusing primarily on how the politics and implementation of educational policies affect outcomes related to racial equity and opportunity within public schools. She is also interested in the ways in which future school leaders are being prepared to address racism in their school communities.
Dr. Anjalé D. Welton is Professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She examines how educational leaders both dialogue about and address race and racism in their school communities. Her research specific to racial equity and justice also considers the role of student and community voice, leadership, and activism in education reform and transformation.
The evening began with introductions by Dr. Tiffanie Lewis-Durham and Dr. Katherine Cumings Mansfield, the ELC faculty members who planned the session. Dr. Lewis-Durham explained, “While discussing our next Critical Conversations in a staff meeting last spring, I mentioned that Dr. Diem and Dr. Welton would be timely guest speakers because of our work in ELC. We were using their book in one of my courses, Culturally Responsive Leadership.”
After introductions, Dr. Diem and Dr. Welton provided a dynamic lecture regarding current conditions and the need for anti-racist leadership in schools. Using a variety of visuals, they described a multi-step process for how school districts can implement practices and policies designed to ensure greater attention to and effective engagement with issues related to equity and diversity.
Following their presentation, they responded to questions posed by the audience. Jasmine L. Garland McKinney, who is a second year PhD student in the Department of Counseling and Educational Development (CED), said, “I joined the event because of my desire to connect with other doctoral students of color.” She added, “This has been such an amazing dialogue.” Marina Lambrinou, who is a third year PhD student in ELC, stated, “Importantly, the speech not only advocated for anti-racist policies, but also demonstrated a means toward creating such policies through the scholars’ anti-racist policy protocol.”
The well-received event was a part of the ongoing ELC Critical Conversations series, which honors the memory and legacy of the late former ELC Department Chair Dr. Rochelle Brock. The evening proved an invaluable opportunity for members of the SOE community to gather and consider vital issues related to education in our current times. ELC deeply appreciates the thought-provoking dialogue that Dr. Diem and Dr. Welton helped generate. Dr. Mansfield noted that soon after the event her phone was “flooded with texts and emails from students saying this was the best thing we’ve ever done!”
The event was generously sponsored by the School of Education’s Dean’s Office, and coordinated by ELC office manager Nor Othman-LeSaux. Going forward, ELC plans to invite guest scholars to present the Critical Conversations keynote address on Educational Leadership for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion as an annual event each fall.
The purpose of the annual ELCCC conference is to create dialogue to address the current socio-political climate in the US, and a central goal is for participants to walk away with a set of pedagogical tools to use in their practice. We seek to extend these critical conversations with faculty, students, teachers, educational leaders, and other community members who are interested in having a positive impact on the world.
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