Conference to highlight cultural diversity

By Gloria Carr

A conference will highlight cultural diversity Friday, while bringing teachers up-to-date on new techniques.

The “New Ideas in History/New Ideas in English” conference, aimed at updating teachers on new ideas, will include speeches from NIU professors and some public school teachers.

Event coordinator Steven Johnson, a director of continuing professional education business, said the conference also will give students the chance to interact with professional teachers.

Some of the seminars offered include African-American Literature: Assimilation and/or Separatism, Hispanic Culture in the Traditional Language Classroom and How Women’s Studies is Changing Studies: Rethinking Literary History.

Lois Self, professor and director of the Women’s Studies Program, will speak at the seminar on “Teaching and Community Diversity, Political Correctness and the Backlash.” Self’s speech will take place at 11:40 a.m. in the Heritage Room of the Holmes Student Center.

Self said she believes students should not be satisfied with a partial education, and cultural diversity should not be the concern of only women and minorities.

“In some ways, it has come to be assumed that diversity is only something that people of color and women should care about,” Self said.

However, she said expanding knowledge is important to everyone. While many people have become more aware for the need of a complete history, a backlash to cultural diversity has been more apparent in the last few years, Self said.

“I really think it is sad, the degree of backlash for the lack of change in the curriculum,” Self said. “A little bit of change must scare people.”

Opponents to cultural diversity fear change because they perceive it as hurting formal education, Self said. “I think there are people on campus who have spoken out against cultural diversity because they see it jeopardizing formal education,” she said.

“The world has changed. We do live in a culturally-diverse world. We do have more diverse relationships working in our communities.”