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GCC 2014: Turning the Diversity Conversation from Theoretical to Applied

From Tuesday’s program of events at the 2014 Melton Foundation Global Citizenship Conference

It is often said that valuing diversity is one thing, but applying it is another. After speaking and sharing about diversity in language, culture, communications, self identity and more, Melton Fellows and Dillard University guests were able to tackle the disconnect. Using gender-based violence, the conflict in Israel and Palestine and sustainability as frames of reference, the dialogue on diversity was able to turn from the theoretical to the applied.


Marginalized groups are the most vulnerable to pollution and environmental degradation as nobody stands up for them. So how do we hear their voices and achieve environmental justice? Dr. Beverly Wright from DU’s Deep South Center for Environmental Justice spoke about how they train and empower victims to become their own advocates. At her center, they combine community experience with academic knowledge in order to find the best solutions. She presented cases from communities that have been affected by the pollution from companies along the Mississippi River Chemical Corridor. The experiences of the community have pushed forward policy regulation. The center also conducts workshops and conferences to train children in creating long-term sustainability.

Israel and Palestine

The conflict in Israel and Palestine has troubled people in the West Asia region for years. A session on the age-old conflict was facilitated by three Melton Fellows, Sofia Farah, May Garces and Julian Klauke, all of whom visited the area in the past year and worked with people in Israel and Palestine. They began with a short video introducing the history of the conflict, afterwards facilitating an activity in which participants wrote out their present understanding of the conflict and the questions they had. The facilitators gave their views on the participants’ understanding and then answered questions. The session concluded with an open discussion on possible solutions to the conflict and what participants themselves could do to make it happen.

Domestic and Gender-Based Violence

There was a packed house as Dillard students and Melton Fellows gathered with the guidance of Dillard University faculty Dr. Eartha Lee Johnson and licensed therapist Wayne Barnes to discuss gender-based violence and what Dillard students have done in the past to help end it. A timely topic, the session started with Barnes asking how many members of the audience knew someone who had encountered gender based violence — nearly the entire room raised their hands. The collaborative group listened as the presentation illustrated how gender based violence is a worldwide problem that has its roots in holding power and the global perception of women.