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Critical Conversation: Community Wide Civic Dialogue is a platform for students, faculty, staff, and local citizens outside of UAB to come together and discuss topics ranging from current events and pop culture to social commentary and how these issues intersect and affect our daily lives. The aim of this initiative is three-fold:

  • To use current events, pop culture, and social commentary as a means to engage UAB and its surrounding communities in civil discourse;
  • Facilitate deeper understandings about some of today’s most vital issues by using our local and national experts to contextualize and inform discussion topics; and
  • Train and empower participants in how to critically consume, scrutinize and respond to information provided through various communication mediums.

We believe that by creating these type of informative dialogues, we contribute to strengthening our learning communities and providing a safe intellectual space for faculty, students, staff, and members of the community to engage one another. Thus, we continue the work of breaking down social barriers which ultimately divide us from community building.

Upcoming Events

The Pandemic, One Year Later: COVID-19, Misinformation, Disinformation and Stopping the Spread

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic. Today, more than 500,000 Americans are dead from COVID-19. The country is recovering from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Schools and colleges, many shuttered since last spring, are slowly reopening. Playing in the background: a symphony of falsehoods downplaying and denying the severity of the pandemic. In the early days of the pandemic, much of the misinformation focused on the origin of the virus and ways to cure or prevent COVID-19. Now, disinformation is casting doubt on the efficacy and safety of coronavirus vaccines.

Join us as we discuss COVID-19 one year later and the effort to eradicate the pandemic.

The event is open to all and participation is intended to be diverse.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021 at 6:00 pm
 

Register Here

Register Here

The Pandemic, One Year Later: Small Business Impact, Remote Work, and the Recovering Economy

The economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a painful toll on small businesses and unemployment nationwide. State policymakers and economic development organizations find themselves on the front line in helping them weather challenging times, but existing incentive and finance programs may not be appropriate to address what these businesses and employees face today. For many Americans returning to work have been deeply changed by the pandemic, prompting some to rethink their careers, either by necessity or by choice.

Join us to discuss how to support small businesses and returning employees as we journey toward recovering the economy.

The event is open to all and participation is intended to be diverse.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021 at 6:00 pm
 

Register Here
 

 

Past Events

September 9, 2021

The Pandemic, One Year Later: George Floyd, Race and Policing

It’s been a year and three months since George Floyd was murdered by the Minneapolis police, sparking nationwide protests over the destructive and often deadly violence too often inflicted with impunity upon minoritized communities by the police officers charged to serve and protect them. Communities openly debated how to root out racist police practices and achieve just policing.

Join us as we welcome a panel of scholars and activists to reflect and discuss police reform and defunding efforts locally and nationally. Panelists include: Brandon Blankenship, Former Police Chief Annetta Nunn, and Andrew Baer.

March 31, 2021

From the Classroom to the Boardroom: A Discussion of Equity Led by BIPOC Women

Gender inequality is a major barrier to social equity and sustainable progress in the United States. Women continue to have a more limited presence than men in leadership and business, having inadequate access to and control of resources. Reducing gender disparity is crucial for the development of a more equitable, peaceful, and sustainable society. While some progress has been made to increase women’s participation, there remains a persistent gender equity gap. Many organizations still fall short of inclusive targets to close the gender gap. For BIPOC women, the gender disparities are even more glaring. Researchers argue that this results from a combination of historical biases around the intersection of race and gender social norms, including, but not limited to, workplace “motherhood penalties,” sexism, and occupational segregation.

Join us for Critical Conversations "From the Classroom to the Boardroom: A Discussion of Equity Led by BIPOC Women," as we invite BIPOC women to the table to unpack their experiences and address the central question, "How do we close the gender equity gap?"

February 10, 2021

White People Talking About Racism

In 2020 we witnessed a Black Lives Matter movement that has been arguably more inclusive and cross-cultural than any movement prior. As more white people show up in the streets supporting Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in the fight for social justice and racial equality, their presence has been met with a mixture of both acceptance and skepticism. For some, this is a shift from a long tradition of whites being silently complicit about racist ideas and practices upon BIPOC communities and bodies. For others, the genuineness of the solidarity we witnessed from white activists is questioned.

Join us for Critical Conversations "White People Talking About Racism," as we invite our white colleagues to the table to unpack these thoughts amongst themselves and discuss the challenges, opportunities, and what’s next in engaging one another in anti-racist work.

January 26, 2021

Post-Election America: What's next for our communities?

The year 2020 introduced challenges and opportunities that tested the strength of our institutions and social systems. Together, we witnessed the sacrifices made in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, held uncomfortable conversations, challenging racial and economic inequities, and ended the year by producing the biggest turnout of voters in the history of U.S. elections. Specifically, the conversation will explore community engagement, education, economics, and healthcare equity, attempting to answer the question “What’s next and how do we heal?”

Join us for Critical Conversations to discuss "Post-Election America: What's next for our communities?" The conversation "Post-Election America: What’s next for our communities?"This event is co-sponsored by the UAB Institute for Human Rights.

September 30, 2020

Academic Freedom, Free Expression, and Civil Discourse Workshops

The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion welcomes Dr. Lara Schwartz to campus to provide two separate workshops on academic freedom, free expression, and civil discourse for students and faculty and staff. In addition to exploring the many ongoing debates about free speech (and its boundaries), Dr. Schwartz will address surrounding issues including but not limited to protests and boycotts, whistle-blowing, coded language, difficult conversations, ethics of partisanship and compassion. Participants will also take part in a moderated classroom-style session in which they engage with hypothetical fact patterns together and interactively considering solutions to problems that might arise in their college community.

Student Workshop: September 30, 2020 at 3:00 p.m.

Faculty and Staff Workshop: October 14, 2020 at 12:00 noon

May 7, 2020

How is COVID-19 Exposing Disparities Within the Local Economy?

The coronavirus has caused countries around the world to close their borders, shutter schools and nonessential businesses, while skyrocketing layoffs, freezing economies, and forcing communities to adapt to lives online. In addition to testing individuals’ psyches, the pandemic is challenging the nature of communal response, thus exposing existing inequalities and social vulnerabilities. The size of the impact varies from community to community depending on underlying conditions. Join us as we bring together nationally and internationally known experts for an online dialogue series designed to address these intersections while highlighting the challenges and opportunities introduced by coronavirus and how it is shaping access, equity, and social justice considerations across various populations.

Featured panelists:
Dr. Stephanie Yates, Endowed Professor and Director of the Regions Institute for Financial Education in UAB Collat School of Business
Dr. Anthony Hood (moderator), Associate Professor in UAB Collat School of Business and Director of Civic Innovation in the Office of the President
Leroy Abrahams, Executive Vice President and Head of Community Affairs at Regions Bank
Dr. Carlos E. Alemán, Deputy Director Mission Support, The Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama

Resource Guide for individuals and small businesses

Watch the conversation here: YouTube

January 21, 2020

History as Education, Entertainment, or Propaganda: A Community Town Hall

In recent years, there has been a number of ongoing debates, commentary, and criticism around a number of retold historical events.From school textbooks replacing the word slaves with workers, immigrants, or indentured servants as interchangeable terms to describe slavery in America to Hollywood blockbuster films taking creative liberties to add in fictionalized characters and plot lines to make movies more inspirational and palatable for the audience.Scholars have noted that the representations of historical narratives in film and television are a method of societal control because it shapes our likelihood to accept or deny public memory through the dissemination of values and beliefs. Join us as we explore these various intersections, its impact on today’s culture, and answer the overarching question, “Should how we tell the story matter?”

Featured panelists:
John Fields, Senior Director, AEIVA
Bridgett Kennedy, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology at UAB
Barry McNealy, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
Michael S. Fitts, Assistant Professor and Assistant Dean for User Access & Diversity, UAB Libraries
Traci Jones, Birmingham Children’s Theatre

This event is free and open to the public. Space is limited and tickets are required.

October 17, 2019

Free Speech and Hate Speech Activism Workshop for Students

Training on responding to free speech, hate speech, First Amendment challenges, and race related incidents on campus for students and for faculty and staff. Brenner and Schwartz will present lessons learned from the previous sessions and propose a path forward for developing sustainable responses. This session will encourage participants to take the perspective of other campus stakeholders and view speech challenges through the lens of other members of the UAB community. Civility in action will be taught in a hands-on workshop that includes brainstorming for campus solutions while evaluating campus policies regarding free speech, hate speech, and expression and learn about avenues for civic engagement on and off campus beyond traditional protest.

October 16, 2019

Free Speech, Hate Speech Workshop for Students

Lara Schwartz and Brenner presentation to students on developments and challenges in campus speech in Alabama and nationally. This presentation will include a brief overview of Alabama’s new campus speech law and its meaning for the campus; the growing partisan divide in opinions on higher education and its relationship to perceived threats to free speech; an overview of other speech and expression issues affecting campuses and US society including measures limiting protest, whistle-blowing, and boycott; and a discussion of myths and facts about the relationship between free speech and inclusion in higher education. Students will also take part in a moderated classroom-style session in which they engage with hypothetical fact patterns together, interactively considering solutions to problems that might arise in their college community.

October 16, 2019

Free Speech In and Outside the Classroom: Faculty and Staff Lunch & Learn

A classroom-style session in which faculty and staff engage with current concerns regarding issues of free speech, hate speech and expression they have experienced with UAB students both inside and outside of the classroom. This presentation will include a brief overview of Alabama’s new campus speech law and its meaning for the campus; the growing partisan divide in opinions on higher education and its relationship to perceived threats to free speech; an overview of other speech and expression issues affecting campuses and US society including measures limiting protest, whistle-blowing, and boycott; and a discussion of myths and facts about the relationship between free speech and inclusion in higher education. Faculty and staff will learn of techniques for de-escalation, civil discussion, maintaining neutrality, tying civil discourse to course learning objectives or program goals, facilitating civil dialogue between student groups and students, tools for interrupting microaggressions, understanding implicit and blindspot bias, addressing intentional and unintentional hurtful speech, and the protocol for facilitating dialogue about challenging topics and maintaining authenticity while keeping personal opinions and political orientation separate from assessment and outcomes.

October 14, 2019

UAB and First Amendment Rights: A Community Town Hall

A series of events about free speech and hate speech will take place at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in October, hosted by the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. A town hall meeting and workshops for students, faculty and staff will address the campus community’s thoughts, questions and concerns about free speech and hate speech across higher education and at UAB. The town hall will take place Monday, Oct. 14, at 6 p.m. in Heritage Hall Room 102. David Hudson, Jr., First Amendment specialist and renowned author and speaker, will serve as moderator.

March 2019

Sharing and Reconciling with Difficult Histories

Many years after the fact, difficult U.S. histories such as slavery, Westward expansion, the Civil War, Japanese internment camps and Jim Crow remain difficult to address. However, current events -- protests around Confederate monuments, celebrities accused of cultural appropriation and white politicians in blackface – serve as a stark reminder of the consequences of leaving difficult histories underexamined. Join a panel of experts who will discuss "What makes difficult history so difficult?"

January 2019

Between Charity and Social Justice - Community Engagement Among Churches and Faith-based Communities-Part II

This is a follow-up conversation which continues to focus on the mission, challenges, and opportunities present among diverse, faith-based communities as it relates to serving the larger society. In this discussion, we invite a number of leaders from various world religions to join us as we continue to address, “How do we tackle such divisions to promote a greater sense of community healing, uplift, and unity?”

November 2018

Between Charity and Social Justice - Community Engagement Among Churches and Faith-based Communities

The conversation will focus on the mission, challenges, and opportunities present among diverse, local faith-based communities as it relates to serving the larger society. In addition, with Sunday being noted as “the most segregated day in America,” panelists will answer the overarching question, “How do we tackle such divisions to promote a greater sense of community healing, uplift, and unity?”

September 2018

Amplifying the Voices and Echoes of #MeToo

The forum focuses on the aftermath of sexual harassment allegations brought forward against well-known celebrities like Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K., Kevin Spacey, R. Kelly and others. Although the allegations have focused mostly on high-profile celebrities and politicians, higher education has not been immune to similar trends. This forum address the #MeToo movement, its impact on higher education, and the legal and ethical issues college and university leadership must consider when confronted with allegations of sexual misconduct.

March 2018

Creating and Sustaining the Beloved Community - Part II

In this follow-up discussion, we address the unanswered questions from our previous dialogue while continuing to explore the idea of what it means to have a beloved community and explore the opportunities available to improve our overall community well-being.

January 2018

Creating and Sustaining the Beloved Community

Community well-being is the result of a complex interplay of social, cultural, economic, political and environmental factors that is beyond the influence of any one individual, organization or level of government alone. In this conversation, we will discuss some of the most creative and lasting solutions to enhance community well-being depend upon citizens, government, and a diversity of organizations that unite around a common vision. In addition, we will explore ways in which we can better facilitate community engagement between UAB and greater Birmingham.

 

 Events are free and open to the public. To learn more, or if you have any questions, please contact the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at (205) 934-8762.