Dialogue and Difference

Dialogue and Difference: A New Understanding is a year-long initiative that will engage our Kent State University community and advance our core values of freedom of expression, respect, and kindness in all that we do. The Division of People, Culture and Belonging is partnering with the School of Peace and Conflict Studies and the Division of Student Life to deliver a series of educational programs that will feature diverse perspectives and aim to help us better understand each other.

Programs will be added throughout the year. Follow DPCB social media and Faculty/Staff News Now for updates.  

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Past Programs:


MLK & Me: Living a Life of Love and Peace During Conflict
Daniel Diaz Nilsson, Jacquelyn Bleak, Dominique Hill, Ed.D., Elizabeth Smith-Pryor, Ph.D., Sonya Williams
February 1, 2024
Kent Student Center, Ballroom
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Dialogue on Hatred: A Peacebuilder's Perspective
Tatsushi Arai, Ph.D.
Watch the Recording

Campus life in the United States is a microcosm of identity-based differences, capable of providing a promising ground for dialogue and mutual learning. However, these differences can also become a basis for identity-based discrimination, stereotyping, and hatred when members of the campus communities internalize the polarizing effects of political divisions, international conflicts, and/or other powerful forces in society. Recognizing these challenges, Professor Tatsushi Arai, a peacebuilding scholar-practitioner with twenty-five years of international experience, will reflect on the sources and nature of hatred in the context of identity-based conflict. He will also explore practical lessons from diverse conflict-affected societies to better understand and overcome identity-based divisions and hatred prevailing across university campuses in the United States.


Roles & Rights: Understanding Academic Freedom & Freedom of Expression
Tracy Laux, Amy Reynolds, Ph.D., Deborah Smith, Ph.D.
March 5, 2024
Governance Chambers, Kent Student Center

This session will explore the scope and limit of two related rights: First Amendment protections for freedom of expression and a faculty member’s right to academic freedom in the classroom and in research. Amy Reynolds will offer an overview of established First Amendment principles and highlight tension areas that often arise on a public university campus – hate speech, expressive conduct, the concept of harm, protections for and limitations of public employee speech, and time, place and manner considerations. Tracy Laux and Deborah Smith will discuss the rationale for and importance of academic freedom in the classroom.  They will discuss the way in which that freedom is limited by the catalogue description and learning outcomes adopted for the course by the academic unit and the range of academic freedom that remains for faculty teaching individual sections of that course.


Navigating the Impact on Cultural and Religious Identity in a Time of Conflict
Rick Feinberg, Ph.D., Chaya Kessler, Babacar M'Baye, Ph.D., Lydia Rose, Ph.D.
March 12, 2024
Watch the Recording

This panel discussion provides a platform for participants to share personal narratives and insights on navigating the impact of conflict on cultural and religious identity. Drawing from diverse backgrounds and experiences, speakers will reflect on the challenges and triumphs encountered in preserving their cultural and religious heritage amidst turbulent times. Through candid anecdotes and reflections, the panel will offer nuanced perspectives on the resilience and adaptation necessary to maintain identity in the face of adversity. Attendees can expect a rich dialogue that illuminates the complexities of identity preservation and fosters empathy and understanding across cultural and religious divides.


Understanding and Combatting Antisemitism
Rabbi Michael Ross
March 19, 2024
Watch the Recording

Rabbi Michael Ross will explore a brief overview on the role of antisemitism and its impact on the Jewish community.

He has been the Senior Jewish Educator at Hillel, an adjunct instructor in the Jewish Studies department at KSU and Siegel College, and the pulpit rabbi at Temple Beth Shalom, in Hudson for the past six years. He will be teaching "Hebrew Bible as Literature" this fall at KSU.


Understanding and Combatting Islamophobia
Lydia Rose, Ph.D.
March 19, 2024
Watch the Recording

Anti-Muslim discrimination, prejudice, and oppression has a history tied to colonialism and internal colonialism. Dr. Rose will describe the basic tenets of Islam and situate Islamophobia within the context of the racial formation literature in sociology. This session will include a brief timeline of Islam and Muslim-Americans in US society beginning with Muslims in American from enslavement practices beginning in 1619, the rise of the Nation of Islam (NOI) and key American figures such as Mohammad Ali and Malcolm X, MENA and Asian immigration waves, to the 9/11 Attacks, the implementation of the “Muslim-ban” during the Trump years, and current conflicts in the Middle East. The rise in visibility of American Muslims in our country has brought on a new wave of hate crimes and anti-Muslim sentiment. Combatting Islamophobia is part of the movement to be anti-racist and overcome structural racism. 
Dr. Rose brings her scholarship and expertise to enhance understand anti-Muslim sentiment and the strategies in combatting Islamophobia.