The News @ Western Libraries ---> Events
Posted on: Wednesday, January 27, 2016 - 9:42am
Using Dialogue to Achieve Equity & Inclusivity at Western
What is the difference between “dialogue,” and “discussion,” and does this distinction matter? Carmen Werder, Director of the Teaching-Learning Academy (TLA) at Western Libraries, explained that understanding these different modes of communication is a fundamental part of the TLA.
“Dialogue is collaborative and requires participants to be aware of their assumptions and to arrive at a deeper understanding, which means the emphasis is on opening up the conversation to as many views as possible. People engaged in dialogue try to find a shared connection, and to do this they need to really listen and try to understand,” said Werder.
“Dialogue consists of asking questions and sharing insight; it’s an exploratory process,” said Learning Commons Coordinator Shevell Thibou, who has been helping facilitate the TLA since 2012. “Because dialogue isn’t about being ‘right,’ and because it requires us to suspend judgment and really explore our own assumptions, it can be challenging,” Thibou added.
Throughout fall quarter, faculty, staff, community members, and more than 70 students in the TLA participated in a series of dialogues to collectively to identify and formulate this year’s “BIG” question, which is: “How do we move beyond conversation to achieve self-sustaining equity and inclusivity at Western?”
Since its inception nearly sixteen years ago, participants in the TLA have been meeting regularly to engage in dialogue around a variety of topics related to improving teaching and learning at Western, and this year’s dialogue sessions are significant for a number of reasons, including the alignment of the 2015-2016 “BIG” question with important conversations occurring throughout Western. Werder noted that since she is retiring this year, this question also has special significance to her personally.
“I’ve seen some version of this question come up as long as I have been at Western, but I really feel like we are at an important place with this particular question, this year, right now,” said Werder, noting the emergence of this question early in fall quarter.
“The issues of equity and inclusion came up before the unfortunate and disturbing incident that happened just before Thanksgiving,” explained Werder, “and I think we can really we can use this as a chance to think about how important it is to talk about these things. And we can also use TLA as a mechanism for connecting people with other broader conversations happening across the University on this topic.”
During the first week of winter quarter’s TLA sessions, participants introduced themselves, and spoke about the benefits of engaging in the dialogue groups. They shared what interested them about this year’s “BIG” question, and spoke about what they hoped their work would bring. Jordan Blevins, a TLA student facilitator, talked about how TLA’s “flattened hierarchy” makes it easier for participants to share unique perspectives.
“We all want to participate. We all want to have our voices heard,” said Blevins, “TLA is our opportunity to do that. This is a great time and an open space, where everyone is welcome.”
Hoping to arrive at some sort of shared definition which would aid them in the exploration of the “BIG” question, participants broke groups to try and define the terms “equity” and “inclusivity” before returning to the larger group to share their results.
Many common themes and questions emerged, such as: “What is fairness?” and “What is difference?” Equity, equality, and privilege were each considered and explored. Some participants noted out how every person brings a different perspective to conceptualizing each of these words, and while “diversity” is not explicitly stated in the “BIG” question, it is implicit in each of these considerations.
Werder pointed out that when engaging in dialogue and discussion, often it is through asking questions rather than thinking we have the answers that we are able to arrive closer to understanding the complexities of these words.
“What is inclusivity? Is it a ‘welcoming’? Is it an attitude? Is it a set of practices? Is it recognizing and appreciating differences? And what does ‘recognizing differences’ mean?” asked Werder.
Your Chance to Participate!
While the TLA dialogue sessions for this quarter began Jan. 13 and 14th, it’s still not too late for you to get involved. As part of their work this quarter, the TLA will host two focus groups on February 17th from 12-1pm and 2-3 pm in the Learning Commons to explore the questions that must be answered in order to achieve self-sustaining equity and inclusivity here at Western. You can also still join a regular TLA session for this quarter. The TLA meets every other week for a total of five meetings for the quarter, and there are four group options:
· Wednesdays from noon to 1:20 p.m. (Jan 13, 27; Feb 10, 24; Mar 9)
· Wednesdays from 2 to 3:20 p.m. (Jan 13, 27; Feb 10, 24; Mar 9)
· Thursdays from noon to 1:20 p.m. (Jan 14, 28; Feb 11, 25; Mar 10)
· Thursdays from 2 to 3:20 p.m. (Jan 14, 28; Feb 11, 25; Mar 10)
While the sessions run for approximately 80 minutes, attendees are welcome to stop by based on their availability. All dialogue groups meet in the Learning Commons in Wilson 2 West. Students can also participate for Communication practicum credit. If you are interested in learning more about the TLA, or to sign up for a dialogue session, email TLA@wwu.edu.
The Teaching-Learning Academy (TLA) at Western Libraries is a Learning Commons partner and the central forum for the scholarship of teaching and learning at Western Washington University. Engaged in studying the intersections between teaching and learning, TLA members include faculty, students, administrators, and staff from across the University, as well as several alumni and community members. Grounded in the scholarship of teaching and learning, the TLA's central mission is to create a community of scholars who work together to better understand the existing learning culture, to share that understanding with others, and to enhance the learning environment for everyone.
Posted on: Tuesday, January 5, 2016 - 1:20pm
New Exhibit Featuring the Work of Photographer Wallie V. Funk
A photographic exhibit featuring images taken by noted prolific photojournalist Wallie V. Funk will open at Western Washington University on January 4, 2016 in Western Libraries Special Collections. This exhibit will be available for viewing between 11am and 4pm, (excluding weekends and holidays).
During his long career as a photographer, journalist, and co-owner of the Anacortes American, the Whidbey News-Times, and the South Whidbey Record, Funk photographed a diverse and eclectic range of subjects, including: several U.S. presidential visits to Washington State; the Beatles’ and Rolling Stones’ concerts in Seattle; the 1970 Penn Cove whale capture; local and regional accidents and disasters (both natural and man-made); and community events and military activities on Whidbey Island.
On Tuesday, February 2 at 4 p.m. in Special Collections, there will be a special panel presentation, “When Local Becomes National: The Legacy and Impact of Pacific Northwest Photojournalist Wallie V. Funk,” featuring three panelists who are familiar with Funk and his body of work.
Panelists are: Paul Cocke, Director of WWU Office of Communications and Marketing and former employee of the Anacortes American, Theresa Trebon, Swinomish Indian Tribal Community and Local Historian, and Scott Terrell, Photojournalist for the Skagit Valley Herald, WWU Journalism Instructor.
Panelists will discuss Funk’s contributions and their place in the history of local and national photojournalism. This special presentation is sponsored by Western Libraries Heritage Resources, Western’s Office of University Communications and Marketing, and Western's Department of Journalism.
The photographs on display in the exhibit represent a small sample from a far larger collection of papers, prints, and negatives donated by Walle V. Funk to the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies in 2003. If you are interested in learning more about the Wallie V. Funk collection of photographs and papers, or for more information about the exhibit and the panel presentations, please contact Heritage.Resources@wwu.edu.
Heritage Resources is a division of Western Libraries which includes the Center for Pacific Northwest Studies, Special Collections, and University Archives & Records Management. Together the three units provide for responsible stewardship of unique and archival materials in support of teaching, learning, and research.