An introduction to ‘Courageous Conversations: Beyond Diversity’

Two-day seminar explores the role of race and racism in academic achievement

Dr. Lori Watson speaks to a group from the VCU School of Education during the two-day 'Beyond Diversity' training at the Science Museum of Virginia on January 22, 2020.
Dr. Lori Watson facilitates a group discussion on Day 1 of the Beyond Diversity seminar at the Science Museum of Virginia.

The VCU School of Education's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee co-sponsored a two-day Beyond Diversity seminar at the Science Museum of Virginia recently for SOE faculty, staff, doctoral students and community partners.

Beyond Diversity: an Introduction to Courageous Conversation & a Foundation for Deinstitutionalizing Racism and Eliminating Racial Achievement Disparities was facilitated by Dr. Lori Watson, equity transformation specialist with the Pacific Education Group (PEG), a consulting firm founded in 1992 that is committed to achieving racial equity in education. The two-day session was conducted using PEG’s award-winning Courageous Conversation™ framework for achieving racial equity in education.

Using this framework, Watson engaged participants in a thoughtful exploration of race and racism where they grappled with how each one influences the culture and climate of our schools. They also practiced using strategies for identifying and addressing policies, programs and practices that negatively impact achievement for students’ of color and serve as barriers for all students receiving a world-class education.

Day 1 – Personalizing Race – provided information about the workshop’s framework, as well as discussion about economic class, why race matters, racial consciousness and white privilege. Homework was assigned in preparation for Day 2.

Day 2 – Examining Whiteness – provided information on the three tiers of courageous conversations about race, as well as discussions on racial affinity groups, systemic racism, affirmative action through three tiers, and a list of useful references.

The two-day seminar is designed to help leaders, educators, students, administrators and community participants understand the impact of race on student learning and investigate the role that racism plays in institutionalizing academic achievement disparities. Additional seminars and more are available on the Courageous Conversation website.