Community, Engagement, Belonging and Access

Latest Embracing Community dialogue series will tackle health disparities


The Harvey and Lucinda Gantt Multicultural Center and the Center for Student Leadership and Engagement will present the next Embracing Community online discussion at 11 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 6. The discussion will be centered around health disparities.

This event is a partnership with Student Health Services. The Embracing Community dialogues are interactive sessions via Zoom and were designed to explore identity and equity during these challenging times.

Associate Director of Multicultural Programs Jerad Green said the series was created in response to the cancelation of the Moving Forward: Social Change retreat. Each session aims to offer people an opportunity to have critical dialogue about social issues and positive change during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This series initially began as a way to explore various social issues to illuminate the fact that these are not new issues, but that they have been exacerbated by COVID-19,” said Green.

Green said the discussions initially focused on broad social issues and from there led to more discussions focused on particular issues or identities. The intent was to engage students in a virtual experience, continuing the work the Gantt Center hoped to accomplish during the Moving Forward retreat.

Green said the series has already had a tangible impact, as several committees have been formed because of the discussions as well as the center’s Taking Action for Racial Justice dialogues.

“Slowly, as we hosted more discussions, more faculty and staff began joining in and it became a very cross-cultural, intergenerational learning space,” said Green, noting that some of the events have had more than 100 students, faculty and staff joining the discussion.

“We recognized these events were often the first or only space individuals had to talk through these issues, so we had a number of departments reach out and invite our facilitator team to host similar discussions in their areas,” he said. “We also realized that folks became increasingly tired of talking about the issues and wanted to do some action planning, so we hosted two separate sessions focused on taking action.”

Other topics explored included global perspectives, class inequity, stories of hope, race and racism and gendered experiences. Many participants were able to create action-oriented groups to continue the conversations and work during the course of the summer series.

“Because of these open dialogues, we have created separate action planning committees focused on the curriculum, co-curricular engagement, faculty/staff recruitment and retention, and student recruitment and retention,” said Green. “Our hope is that the discussions from these action planning teams can assist the University in its efforts to advance social justice and equity during these unprecedented times.”

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