The UW–Madison School of Education’s Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (OEDI) teamed up with its Office of Professional Learning and Community Education (PLACE) to produce a series of symposia focused on critical issues of racial justice.
During the fall 2020 semester and continuing through spring 2021, this series hosted events titled: Leading Antiracist School Communities; Advancing Health Equity in the Era of COVID-19; Addressing Inequities in School Policies, Policing, and Discipline Practices; Advancing Hip Hop as a Path Toward Equity; The Power of Real Talk to Make Real Change; and Centering the Whole Child in Teaching and Learning. (All of the recordings from the symposia are available via this PLACE web page.)
“The pandemic has been difficult in so many ways,” says LaVar Charleston, who became the School of Education’s first associate dean for equity, diversity, and inclusion in June 2019 before taking on a new position to lead similar efforts at the campus level in the summer of 2021. “We had done all this work and prepared a strategic plan for the School to start implementing important EDI work and then the pandemic hits and George Floyd is murdered and we’re trying to figure out how best to connect with our students and community when we can’t meet in person.”
The Real Talk for Real Change symposium is but one example of how the School continued its vital EDI efforts — and even broadened its reach. In all, more than 2,600 people signed up for the seven Real Talk for Real Change events, with people tuning in from campus, across the nation, and around the world.
The Real Talk for Real Change symposia series is open to the public, and the partnership between OEDI and PLACE was made possible by the generosity of the Wisconsin Center for Education Products and Services (WCEPS), and the School of Education’s Impact 2030 initiative.