Northern Illinois University

NIU Office of Public Affairs

News Release

Contact: Mark McGowan, NIU Office of Public Affairs
(815) 753-9472

May 16, 2006

Fifteen NIU faculty, staff gather for institute
to learn ways to make curriculum multicultural

DeKalb — Jane Elliott has spent nearly four decades helping people to feel – and exert – prejudice.

In her internationally known “Brown Eye/Blue Eye” anti-discrimination activity, participants are labeled inferior or superior based solely on the color of their eyes as the role-playing exercise dramatically exposes the anatomy of intolerance.

Now Elliott is coming to Northern Illinois University as the keynote speaker for the 13th Multicultural Curriculum Transformation Institute, which began Monday.

“Jane has developed quite a lot of expertise in the area of diversity training,” said Amy Levin, director of Women's Studies and chair of the MCTI task force. “We're hoping she can bring some of her experiences to us and work with our participants in expanding awareness of multicultural activities.”

Elliott, a recipient of the National Mental Health Association Award for Excellence in Education, will speak from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1:15 to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 17, in the Heritage Room of the Holmes Student Center.

A reception in her honor is scheduled from 4 to 6 p.m. that afternoon in the Barsema Alumni and Visitors Center.

Other open sessions this week in the Heritage Room include a panel on disabilities (10:45 a.m. to noon today), a panel on social class (9 to 10:30 a.m. Tuesday) and a panel on gender (1:15 to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday).

A panel on race and ethnicity is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon Thursday in the Center for Latino and Latin American Studies followed by an open discussion on race and ethnicity (1:15 to 2:30 p.m.). Panels on sexual orientation (9 to 10:30 a.m. Friday) and religion (10:45 a.m. to noon Friday) take place in Altgeld Hall 203.

Launched in 1994, MCTI brings together people from across campus to learn more about multiculturalism and to discuss how to weave its ideals into their curriculum.

Around 175 alumni of the institute have “transformed” more than 160 courses over the years. The enhanced syllabi help to attract a wider range of students, who then gain inclusive and diverse perspectives.

“It's had quite a big effect on instruction at NIU,” said Levin, who also is a professor of English. “Some of the activities have been incorporated into other courses we don't even know about.”

Multiculturalism is defined as the inclusion of scholarship, theory, concept and fact of cultures that historically have been under-represented in all educational arenas.

Task force leaders envision an enriched academic environment where faculty address multicultural perspectives in their teaching and curricula, accommodate the needs of a diverse student population and engage in activities that promote scholarship of multicultural curricula.

This year's participants, awarded $1,000 each, are Betty Birner, English; Sarah Blue, Geography; Thomas Bough, Music; Sabiha Daudi, Teaching and Learning; Teresa Fisher, Counseling, Adult and Higher Education; Barbara Fox, Accountancy; Mary Beth Henning, Teaching and Learning; Greg Long, Communicative Disorders; Linda Melin, Teaching and Learning; Pamela Nelson, Literacy Education; Kathleen G. Rust, Elmhurst College; Eui-kyung Shin, Teaching and Learning; Stacey Short, Management; Debra Zahay, Marketing; and Jie Zhou, Computer Science.

“I'm impressed with the openness and the honesty with which participants approach the institute,” Levin said, “and with their continual eagerness to improve their teaching.”

For more information, call (815) 753-8557.

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