Moving Forward from the Diversity Summit
CCESL works to ensure the event is a launching pad for meaningful action
Note: This article was updated on Feb. 8, 2021.
After hours of listening to powerful keynote addresses and insightful panels, it was time to start talking.
Seated at round tables in the Cable Center, attendees of DU’s annual Diversity Summit shared both lunch and ideas, trying to tackle the biggest question of the two-day event: “What’s next?”
“It's a really exciting opportunity to take the things you’ve been learning and grappling with over the course of the summit and translate that into answers,” said Anne DePrince, director of the Center for Community Engagement to advance Scholarship and Learning (CCESL), which sponsored the Call to Action Working Lunch Friday afternoon. “Our goal is to continue many of the conversations that have been under way for the last day and a half.”
As people walked through the door, they chose to sit at themed tables. Each focused on one of 10 different themes related to community service, research, teaching and identifying community needs, among others.
Faculty, staff, students and community members intermingled, getting to know one another while sharing their perspectives on summit events. Fellows and members of the CCESL program sat in too, encouraging and prompting dialogue.
“You have a lot of ideas that are sparked, but you wonder: ‘OK, how can I actually go out and make an impact?’” said Lauren Collins, a graduate student and CCESL fellow. “Community engagement is a way to start making a difference. People find they actually have common ground with people who are different than them, and then you can work together to make a change.”
After lunch, many participants stuck around to continue the dialogue, working to tackle what DU calls “Grand Challenges.” Groups comprising all segments of the University and greater community collaborated to identify pressing issues and develop the first steps to solving them.
Sometimes, conversation didn’t come easy.
“I think you have to be comfortable with silence for a little bit,” Collins said. “I think we’re way too used to people just jumping in, and it takes a while to think about and formulate ideas. [It’s important to] have the right amount of time to get to know people, have them sit with ideas and start talking.”
DePrince calls it “intentional relationship building,” which she considers critical to organizing and understanding the self-interests of others.
“It's not about the ivory tower deciding we’re going to do something this way and hope everybody likes it,” she said. “It's change with communities. Not change for communities or change to communities, but this collaboration. It's about sharing risk and sharing benefits and sharing responsibility.”