Wake Forest summer program designed to promote pluralism

To promote a philosophy of education that embraces pluralism and builds community, Wake Forest University, Winston Salem State University and Salem College will take part in a four-week summer program beginning July 6.

“Each program, activity and discussion is designed to encourage analytical thinking about our approaches to learning and teaching as we confront our own biases and consider the realities of an increasingly pluralistic community,” says Jeryl Prescott, associate dean of the college at Wake Forest and organizer of the program. “A major goal of the initiative is to promote critical dialogue that goes beyond sensitivity, tolerance or political correctness.”

Wake Forest has been awarded $150,000 by the Pluralism and Unity Program of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to support a three-year project that will also include interactive workshops for faculty and administrators coordinated through Wake Forest’s Teaching and Learning Center, as well as student community-building outreach efforts.

Twenty-six participants, called “Hewlett Ambassadors,” will attend core classes in the summer program focused on “Race and Ethnicity in America” and “Prejudice and Racism.”

Wake Forest professors, Earl Smith, Rubin Professor of American Ethnic Studies and chair of the sociology department, and Charles Richman, professor of psychology, will teach the courses. Smith is an authority on ethnicity and urbanization in American society and has recently launched a multi-ethnic teaching and research project looking at “immigration and ethnicity” in 19th and 20th century America. Richman teaches an undergraduate course, “Human Diversity” and a graduate course titled, “Prejudice, Discrimination and Racism.” Others leading the summer program include: Paige Wilbanks, assistant director of student development at Wake Forest; Joyce Williams-Green, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs at Winston-Salem State University; and Ann McElaney-Johnson, associate dean of the college at Salem College.

The summer program will include a film series that is free and open to the public. The films address African American, Asian American, Native American, Jewish American, female and international experiences. Facilitators will lead discussions after each film.

Films will be shown in Benson University Center’s Pugh Auditorium. Following is a schedule:

9 a.m. July 7
“Slam”- Story of a talented poet jailed in Washington, D.C., who finds expression for his frustrations with the help of an English teacher. Nathan Ross Freeman, playwright and instructor of playwriting and screenwriting at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, will lead the discussion. Local poets will also read their works.

1 p.m. July 7
“Hate” – French film that follows three teenage boys for the 24-hours following the shooting of their friend by the police. Wake Forest graduate and West African native Maryam Rahman-Esene will lead the discussion.

4 p.m. July 11
“Smoke Signals” – The first film produced, directed, and acted by Native Americans that focuses on a young man’s family experiences with storytelling, alcoholism, and death. Several Native Americans from North Carolina will lead the discussion.(This film will be shown in Tribble Hall’s Detamble Auditorium.)

1 p.m. July 26
“We Once Were Warriors” – Story about a Maori family, the indigenous people of New Zealand. Joanna Iwata, director of the Benson University Center and advisor to the Wake Forest Asian student association, will lead the discussion.

1 p.m. July 31
“Get on the Bus”- Chronicles the experiences of several men traveling to the Million Man March and shows the diversity within the group as they discuss politics, sexuality, and family. Leander Sales, editor of the film and faculty member at North Carolina School of the Arts, will lead the discussion.

1 p.m. Aug. 1
Excerpts from “Shoah” – A direct confrontation with the people of the Holocaust including extensive interviews with victims, bystanders, and persecutors. Andrew Ettin, professor of English and counselor for the Wake Forest Jewish Students Organization, will lead the discussion.

For information regarding the films, call Jeryl Prescott at 758-5311.

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