The Women & Gender Collaborative is launching a fall series designed to encourage open dialogue and awareness of the role gender identity plays in how we see and experience the world around us. The series, called Collaborative Conversations: Coming to Consciousness Around the Politics of Gender, is open to the campus community. The Collaborative will host the series over three dates, and prior registration is encouraged:
The Collaborative Conversations series will engage four different panelists on the influence of gender in everyday life, especially how power and privilege create advantages and disadvantages based on how one’s experience of gender is shaped by other identities a person holds.
“Gender is more than just a matter of how you identify,” says Cori Wong, director of the Collaborative. “Our understanding of gender and how we embody it shapes our experiences across a multitude of contexts that are different depending on who you are.”
For example, gender influences experiences in the workplace and the classroom, and is relevant to how people tend to interact within their families and other personal relationships. According to Wong, becoming aware of how gender impacts and influences every corner of our lives is the prerequisite for understanding how these experiences are related to power and privilege, and what we can do to create greater equity in light of them.
The series features four panelists who model how to have effective and meaningful conversations across differences, and demonstrate techniques for engaging in open-ended, honest exchanges around issues involving gender, privilege, diversity, equity and bias. The panelists are:
- Cori Wong, director of the Women & Gender Collaborative
- Jaelyn Coates, second-year graduate student in the CSU Student Affairs in Higher Education (SAHE) program and one of the featured TEDxCSU 2017 speakers
- Christopher Leck, CSU Health Network Counselor and Instructor in the School of Social Work
- Emily Ambrose, Assistant Director of the Pride Resource Center
The objective of Collaborative Conversations and the panelists participating in the series is to create a consistent, responsive space where discussions concerning the campus community can be featured, while giving a voice to a variety of experiences.
“There is no demand for agreement or consensus, rather a focus is on respect for the process,” says Wong. “The panelists’ engagement will serve to educate through modeling how to do the hard work of dialogue while also providing an in-depth exploration of content that may not be readily available in most introductory diversity-based workshops.”
There will be opportunities for those in attendance to participate in the process of dialogue and reflection either by temporarily joining the panel discussion or by staying after the initial dialogue. The room will be held for an hour immediately following the panelists’ dialogue so those in attendance can talk with others about what they have heard and learned.
True dialogue on difficult concepts
The dialogue process focuses on giving a voice to underrepresented perspectives without asking individuals to educate others on their experiences. Wong says it may serve to help people process concepts and topics that can be difficult to tackle alone, especially if one seeks to understand another’s experience that differs from their own. An emphasis will be placed on open-endedness and a commitment to learn from and with others about their process of understanding the role of gender in their lives.
“There is inherent value in listening to others in order to learn and better understand how we can support one another,” says Wong. “It is difficult at times, but we all have the responsibility to continuously increase our critical consciousness around power and privilege. When we do, everyone benefits.”
The series will be video recorded and made publicly available on Canvas in the near future so that all faculty, staff, students, and community members can use them as resources to supplement continued education around gender-related issues. The series is offered in partnership with The Institute for Teaching and Learning and CSU Online.