GUEST Post by Dr. Sherry Bowen: “Diversity Opportunities at Villanova: My Perspective”

Below is a guest post by Communication Professor Sherry BowenWith Registration Advising underway, take some time to think about Diversity opportunities available at Villanova, and consider enrolling in a one-credit Intergroup Dialogue (IGR) course.

As a faculty member at VU for quite some time, I see the opportunities for being involved with diversity growing on our campus. It is exciting to me to see my professional activities in research and teaching moving beyond the classroom throughout the community.

My own research program over the years has dealt with how we construct our identities through our social interaction.  These identities include but are not limited to race, class, and gender. I am interested in studying the instances when particular aspects of our identity become salient to us in our interactions.  Sometimes we may not be particularly aware of our race, for example.  But, when we are the only person of our race in a group, suddenly we are acutely aware of our difference. Or, when someone treats us differently by making an unfair generalization about our sex (e.g., recently I heard someone say, “As a woman, you must love to shop”), our attention is piqued (P.S. I don’t love to shop).  When we communicate with others, we learn about ourselves through interpreting how others act towards us.  In turn, we form our responses to other people based on how we see the other(s) we interact with. This interactive process is central to communication, and when we overlay the cultural contexts into the mix, we see the possibilities for learning and for dialogue.

When students take Diversity courses at Villanova, they learn about unfamiliar cultures, they learn to see through the eyes of other peoples and cultures, and they gain understanding of how individuals are affected within the surrounding systems of power, oppression and marginalization.

Each semester Villanova offers any number of Diversity designated courses in three different areas:  US minorities (Diversity 1), Gender & Women (Diversity 2), and non-Western cultures (Diversity 3).  Take some and explore the world and yourself!

A new offering at Villanova is Intergroup Dialogue (or IGR).  One-credit topically oriented courses are offered on different topics.  Students learn skills that allow them to talk THROUGH difference, difference in race, gender, socioeconomic background, etc. while also learning about why people may have different experiences based on their identities. This is a model from University of Michigan that we have adapted through a clear focus on communication.  Check it out:  www.villanova.edu/igr.

Feel free to reach out to me if you would like more information about diversity opportunities.  These are just a few!

Dr. Sherry Bowen, 17 Garey Hall, Dept. of Communication
Sheryl.bowen@villanova.edu

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