Edinboro hosts Dr. Melinda Brennan in Diversity Dialogue series

Category:  News
Tuesday, November 16th, 2021 at 2:13 PM
Edinboro hosts Dr. Melinda Brennan in Diversity Dialogue series by Julia Carden
Dr. Melinda Brennan on Edinboro University's Diversity Dialogue series.

Edinboro University continued its Diversity Dialogue series with the newest event, titled Intersectionality Crossing Campus: Language, Habit, Inclusion. The university started this online series during the COVID-19 pandemic to bring students together to discuss varying topics centered on diversity.  

The latest online discussion was streamed live on the university’s YouTube channel on Nov. 8. Students, employees and community members were encouraged to attend to learn more about promoting inclusivity on college campuses.  

The latest edition to the series featured Dr. Melinda Brennan, assistant chair of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Milwaukee,along with Dr. Terrence Mitchell, vice president for diversity,equity and inclusion at Edinboro, Clarion and California universities.  

Mitchell began by introducing Brennan as his colleague and “the person who knows everything there is to know about intersectionality.” According to Brennan, she has been doing diversity, inclusion and equity work for over a decade, and community building and social justice work for over 20 years.  

In Brennan’s words, intersectionality means, “that in any given situation, you must consider the ways that multiple systems of oppression, be that racism, sexism, disability, ableism, class, and more are operating together to cause the situation – a social problem – and harm groups of people stuck or caught at that intersection.” 

After introductions, the panel dove into three principles and how they are tied to intersectionality, providing in-depth discussions and an example model for each. These model examples were realistic situations that students might face on a college campus or in society. The first topic included diversity, equity and inclusion, followed by habit and language.  

She expressed the importance of education and awareness as she stated, “you can’t address what you can't perceive. Brennan also stressed that diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging are “quality of life issues.”  

She then moved onto the habit principle. In Brennan’s words, “habit can be harnessed as a powerful tool to leverage change.” She noted instances of progressive change as landmark court cases, social justice movements and when people in power acknowledge the need for change. While the power of habit to shift a person’s mindset and behavior is also powerful, but underestimated. These transformations of habit can “chip away at things that are unjust.” 

The third and final principle discussed was language. Brennan explained that there is a strong connection between the way you think and the way you communicate. She explained further that the way people think about groups of people and issues influence the language they use to communicate with oneself and others. 

Dr. Brennan and Dr. Mitchell closed the discussion by summarizing the three principles and reminding viewers to take these topics into account when thinking about intersectionality.  

This episode of the Diversity Dialogue series can be viewed in full here. 

Juila Carden, Music Editor and Social Media Director | @EdinboroNow

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