New in Brief Dec. 5

Founding dean of  the school of education to step down in June Dean Dennis Sterner announced Nov. 26 that he would be stepping down from his position. Sterner became the school’s dean with its founding in 1991. After a sabbatical, he will return to Whitworth as a professor of education.

Mexico inaugurates a new president

Enrique Pena Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) was sworn in as Mexico’s president Saturday, Dec. 1. The inauguration took place amid violent protests. Demonstrators were protesting what they viewed as vote-buying by the campaign as well as the PRI’s return to power. The PRI held power for 71 years before 2000, and this is their first win since then. Nieto said his focus will be reducing violence in Mexico.

Egypt’s President sets the date to vote on the constitution

President Mohammed Morsi announced Dec. 1 that a public referendum on the draft of the constitution would take place Saturday, Dec. 15.  Morsi has been criticized for the amount of power he has seized recently.

The United Nations votes to recognize Palestine as a non-member observer state

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was successful in his attempt to upgrade Palestine’s diplomatic status. The vote passed with 138 members of the UN assembly in favor of the status change. Nine states, including Israel and the U.S. strongly opposed the decision, and 41 nations abstained from the vote. The Palestinians hope to be able to strengthen their chances for recognition as a sovereign state, whereas officials in the U.S. and Israel said this could prolong the absence of peace in the region.

Study shows increased global carbon dioxide emissions in 2012

A study published in the Nature Climate Change journal and then in Earth System Science Data Discussion showed a 2.6 percent increase in carbon dioxide emissions levels from 2011. In 2012, 35.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide were emitted. The United States is one of the world’s top 10 polluters.

Sources | www.whitworth.edu, The Spokesman-Review, BBC, AlJazeera

Lecture emphasizes culture’s importance in higher education

Cultural and social skills should be taught alongside academics, said guest speaker Geneva Gay Thursday, Oct. 4, in a lecture given in partnership with Whitworth’s school of education in the  Robinson Teaching Theatre. Gay is a professor of education at the University of Washington, and a nationally acclaimed speaker on the topic of multicultural education. Gay was introduced by Lawrence Burnley, assistant vice president of diversity and intercultural relations and assistant professor of history at Whitworth. The event aligns with plans for a new lecture series under goal four of the Strategic Plan, to demonstrate courageous leadership in an increasingly diverse world.

“The Strategic Plan calls for opportunities to develop curriculum in ways that are culturally responsive,” Burnley said.

In the school of education, Whitworth includes diversity training in preparing students as future educators. But students aren’t the only ones learning about diversity.

“In order for our students to have a good perspective, we need faculty to have one first,” Roberta Wilburn, associate dean and director of graduate studies in education, said.

The multicultural experience Jan Term program has been in place for more than 25 years and has been recognized as a model, said Dennis Sterner, dean of the school of education. This emphasis continues to be extended throughout the campus.

“We need to equip our entire community with intercultural competencies,” President Beck Taylor said.

The topic of the lecture was about choosing course content for an inclusive mind and heart education. Gay addressed a broad range of realities and current setbacks faced in providing this inclusive education.

“I can’t tell you exactly what to do in your context because I am not a member of this context,” Gay said. “Not everyone in your university will ever be ready for diversity.”

In relation to course content in any context, Gay explained that there is a difference between formal and informal curriculum. Formal curriculum includes the academic information distributed through course content. Informal curriculum includes speakers, sports, campus-wide activities and university images.

“In some ways, the informal curriculum, the indirect curriculum, can be more impactful than the formal curriculum,” Gay said.

Within the process of forming a more inclusive education, the informal curriculum must be taken into account. At the same time, the formal curriculum should expand to encompass a more inclusive canon.

“In addition to teaching students academic skills, we need to teach social and cultural skills,” Gay said.

Gay said definitions of diversity should not only include race and ethnicity, but also gender, religion and socioeconomic status. Part of understanding all of these as separate factors of identity is in recognizing that those identities also lead to association within groups, which are also deserving of respect.

“All of us, whoever we are, are cultural beings,” Gay said. “We have to live in this world together.”

At the end of the lecture, Gay opened the floor to questions from the audience. President Beck Taylor asked for Gay’s input on an issue at Whitworth.

“I hear a lot from students who say they don’t see themselves in the curriculum. They feel removed,” Taylor said.

Gay responded by advising Whitworth to cultivate a sense of refuge, reminding the audience that different people need very different resources and support.

mproving on the formal and informal relationships and equipping staff and faculty are all vital contributions.

“Good, solid, deep, authentic relationships are needed all over the place,” Gay said.

Laryssa Lynch Staff Writer

Contact Laryssa Lynch at laryssalynch15@my.whitworth.edu.