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Mead Chapel will host an event on May 2 concerning responsibility, reconciliation, and the atomic bomb.

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Spring Programs Concentrate on Inclusivity

March 25, 2016

MIDDLEBURY – Members of the Middlebury College community will have numerous opportunities to explore the topic of inclusivity from different perspectives during the second half of the 2016 spring semester.

The events will include faculty-led dinner discussions, student-led conversations, film screenings, panel discussions, reflective talks, and lectures “all intended to explore what we understand about inclusivity and how we can deepen our sense of community,” said Miguel Fernández ’85, professor of Spanish and interim chief diversity officer.

“Our hope is that in smaller group gatherings, students, faculty, and staff can converse openly about the steps we need to take to create and sustain a campus community where no one experiences it as an outsider,” he added.

Engaging with diversity and inclusiveness has been a recurring theme throughout the academic year. In recent weeks, the college has presented the screening of the film “The Smallest Way” followed by a discussion with filmmaker Pamela Tanner Boll ’78; the performance of the prize-winning drama “Detroit ’67”; and a candid conversation between authors Julia Alvarez ’71 and Edwidge Danticat.

There also was a dinner discussion with Professors Bill Hart (history) and Jonathan Miller-Lane (education studies), and a lecture by philosopher Martha Nussbaum on managing anger to achieve justice. Earlier this year the College hosted a well-attended Alumni of Color Weekend and instituted important changes in the Cultures and Civilizations distribution requirement.

The following events will be held this spring:

  • Student-led dinners in Ross Fireplace Lounge will resume in April under the heading “Breaking Barriers.” These dinners encourage students to engage in conversations that seek to transcend the walls that prevent them from connecting with each other at a deeper level.
  • Upcoming “Reflection Fridays” hosted by the Center for Social Entrepreneurship will include conversations with Nadia Horning, associate professor of political science, on April 8, and with CSE fellow Debanjan Roychoudhury ’16 on April 22.
  • On April 25 there will be a discussion about the miscommunication that occurs when people from different language and cultural backgrounds interact with each other. The event will be at 4:30 p.m. in the Robert A. Jones ’59 House.
  • The theme of “Responsibility, Reconciliation, and the Dropping of Atomic Bombs” will be the topic of a discussion between President Harry Truman’s grandson Clifton Truman Daniels and a Hiroshima survivor, Shigeko Sasamori, on May 2 at 7:30 p.m. in Mead Chapel.
  • Middlebury will host a day-long Alliance for an Inclusive Middlebury Conference on Saturday, May 7, and the Center for Social Entrepreneurship’s June forum will explore “Mindfulness and Inclusivity” June 11-14 at the Bread Loaf campus.

The attention given to conversations on inclusivity at Middlebury stem from two sources, Fernández explained: “President Patton’s call for ‘arguments for the sake of heaven’ in her October 11, 2015, Inaugural Address, and as a way to continue the discussions we had at three town hall meetings held in the fall.”

All of the events listed here are open to members of the Middlebury community, and “we hope to model listening to others and how to engage in difficult conversations,” Fernández added.

– With reporting by Robert Keren

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