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Students, faculty, and staff will engage in meaningful discussions about issues related to social justice at Caldwell University’s inaugural Social Justice Symposium on Friday, April 8. 

The organizers of the symposium, Tim Kessler-Cleary, assistant dean of Student Engagement and Retention and the deputy Title IX coordinator, and Abdul Staten, director of Student Advocacy and Prevention Awareness and Student Life, created the event in hopes of establishing a common goal. 

As organizers of the upcoming event, Kessler-Cleary and Staten are confident in the symposium and how it will allow for different ideas to be heard. The two also recognize how difficult it may be for people to voice their concerns about issues related to social justice, yet they acknowledge how necessary it is to speak about these topics. “People can expect dialogue, interaction, discomfort,” they mentioned. 

Although it may be uncomfortable for attendees and speakers to engage in conversations about social justice issues, the Caldwell community, like many other institutions, will benefit from individual and collective growth. Discussing systematic frameworks, such as intersectionality, will help people understand why social categories, such as race, class, and gender, intertwine or impact one another. Kessler-Cleary said, “For it to be effective there has to be constant engagement,” reminding the community that there is still work to be done. 

The Social Justice Symposium will not only establish a dialogue about changes that need to be made throughout society but will also emphasize the importance of keeping this form of connection alive. With more than 35 speakers and 150 attendees registered so far, the day-long event is bound to inspire people about social equality and why each person has the capacity to change the world. The initiative of the symposium does not cease at the end of this event. “It has to be bigger than us,” Staten said. 

Staten and Kessler-Cleary not only look forward to seeing members of the Caldwell community demonstrate their concern for social justice work as a whole, but also hope to witness these conversations taking place beyond campus. The University is proud to represent many experts on campus who are committed to leading with passion and pure intention. Ultimately, events like this symposium will encourage young students to seek fulfillment throughout their Caldwell experience. 

The upcoming social justice symposium is special because it is open to the broader Caldwell community, which includes people from diverse backgrounds, levels of experience, and stages of life. “We have an obligation to learn from one another…we need to cross those boundaries between each other and our ages,” Kessler-Cleary added. Caldwell is extremely lucky to have a community that is excited about getting involved. 

Event organizers have introduced the Whova app for attendees and presenters. The Whova app will allow attendees to engage in interactive polls, surveys, and contests, while making the day’s events easier to navigate. Attendees are encouraged to use the app to view the agenda, session locations, speaker bios, resources, and, of course, to connect with other attendees.

The goal of the symposium is to help attendees:

  • Incorporate social justice themes into educational and working environments
  • Foster long-term engagement and action on issues related to social justice
  • Develop skills to become an effective interrupter and have productive conversations in support of the social justice movement
  • Identify ways to get involved in causes and become an advocate
  • Become a servant leader on social justice issues and inspire change in the community
  • Use an intersectional approach to social justice issues.

Staten summarizes, “Our diversity is our strength and we all have a vested interest in ensuring that we are creating a welcoming and equitable campus community that centers on marginalized voices and celebrates all members.”

Schedule of Symposium Events

9am – Symposium Check In
9:30 – Welcome and Opening Remarks
10:00 – Choose from four panel discussions with different topics and speakers
11:00 – Choose from three panel discussions and two lectures
12:00 – Lunch
1:45 –  Choose from three panel discussions and one lecture
2:00 – Closing remarks and swag pickup

See the complete agenda