The Office of Equity and Inclusion (OEI) is continuing the Learning Communities initiative, which encourages the campus community to participate in small informal discussion groups based on the book, “What if I Say the Wrong Thing?: 25 Habits for Culturally Effective People” by Vernā Myers.
The initiative was piloted last semester with students, staff and faculty across campus.
Fourteen book discussion groups will begin across campus this spring, with most holding their initial meeting during the first week of February. In addition, a structured classroom-style group will be offered in partnership with the Labor/Management Workplace Education Program.
Sign up to reserve your space at www.umass.edu/diversity/join-conversation.
Participants will be provided a free copy of the book. An accessible version for screen readers is available for the visually impaired or blind.
The book supports the goal of the learning community: to create spaces to develop skills and unpack challenges to respectful community by enabling participants to practice thoughtful interaction across difference. It provides readers with tips on how to be more culturally effective, ways to improve communication, how to recognize and address internal biases, and the ongoing process of inclusive and respectful engagement.
Emmanuel Adero, OEI director of diversity special projects, who leads this initiative, said “Community members from across campus continue to express their appreciation for having the space to engage in productive conversations that tackle these very important themes. This speaks to the ongoing need for this kind of dialogue, but also the great benefit our staff, faculty, and students derive from this dialogue.”
Learning community members will have access to online resources to reference and guide them as they read. OEI will provide central support to help groups get off the ground, a discussion guide for each meeting and will moderate groups where needed.
Any member of the campus community interested in joining a group is welcome and encouraged to participate.