2017-18 Diversity Lecture Series topics intended to promote discussion, reflection

Oct. 17, 2017 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Speakers in the 2017-18 Diversity Lecture Series include a neuroscience researcher, a comedian and a filmmaker.

The Diversity Lecture Series, sponsored by Grand Rapids Community College's Bob and Aleicia Woodrick Center for Equity and Inclusion and the GRCC Social Sciences department, is intended to provide insight and understanding of equity and inclusion to the West Michigan community. All lectures are free and open to the public.

Domingo Hernandez-Gomez, director of the Woodrick Center, said the variety of perspectives offered by the speakers in the 2017-18 series reflects a diversity of issues important to our current state of public affairs in America.

"The message of all our speakers is simple and explores the steadfast American virtue of philanthropy toward others,” he said. “In their own way, each speaks to this common cultural philanthropic tread, in the broadest sense of the word, by espousing goodwill, compassion and altruism. 

"We know that the topics in the Diversity Lecture Series need to be discussed if we are to maintain or build a healthy community -- for we depend on each other to overcome the challenges that divide us. It starts with dialogue and reflection in the spirit of learning. It is not easy. It takes courage and humility, and one must be open and willing to listen to other perspectives and extend grace when offended. May our wisdom prevail over our pride. That is the invitation."

The 2017-18 speakers are:

  • John Cacioppo, author and founding director of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago, will discuss "Loneliness and Brain Health" on Oct. 25.
  • Julissa Arce, author, immigration and education advocate and co-founder of the Ascent Education Fund, will present "The American DREAMer: From Undocumented to Wall Street and Immigration Advocacy" on Nov. 15. 
  • Dawn Porter, attorney, filmmaker and criminal justice system reformer, will discuss "Defending America in the Age of Mass Incarceration" on Feb. 21.
  • Negin Farsad, author and social justice comedian, will present "Fighting Islamophobia, Bigotry and What Have You with Comedy" on March 14.

All the lectures begin at 7 p.m. at Fountain Street Church, 24 Fountain St. NE. Book signings by authors follow the lectures, and presentations are ASL interpreted. For more information, call (616) 234-3390.

Grand Rapids Community College has been offering educational opportunities in West Michigan for more than 100 years. Established in 1914, the college offers degree courses, certification and training programs, and workshops and personal enrichment classes. Offerings are held on GRCC’s downtown Grand Rapids campus, and at several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties, as well as through distance learning.


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