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Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy

University Partnership Leads to Community Conversation

The Cats for Inclusion campaign, supported through the Staley School of Leadership Studies and the Kansas State University Black Student Union have formed a partnership to develop a public discussion and civic leadership training series. The first of three community conversations took place on September 3rd, with two more scheduled for October 2nd and 27th.

The goal is to foster a community-wide initiative to take what Dr. Brandon Kliewer, assistant professor of civic leadership, calls an “anti-racist stance.” Shared objectives include an understanding of inclusion, multiculturalism, and social justice.

Kliewer explained that the facilitation works in three steps. The first step involves sharing a “story of self;” a two minute individual narrative based on an incident that raised awareness of issues of inclusion, multicultural learning, and justice.

Next, participants are invited to bring the first stories together in the “story of us.” Here, Kliewer says the public “weaves a collective ‘we’” and discovers shared identity, values, and experiences.

Finally, everyone delves into the “story of now,” which is essentially a call to action. Participants are asked to focus on their “next story” and what their role in addressing forms of institutional racism could include. They look at what they are passionate about in terms of diversity and inclusion, and then propose an action step. Kliewer said action steps are based on where individuals see themselves and have ranged from furthering social justice education, holding a forum of their own, or to continuing the conversation within their classroom or job.

Kliewer shared his own story that led him to become a community-engaged scholar and develop an interest in connecting his work to questions of justice. Kliewer grew up and attended high school in a small town that was heavily invested in agriculture. He became aware of social, political, and economic issues associated with the agricultural industry and migrant families who supported successful farms in California. Dr. Kliewer continued to explore his interests in leveraging forms of community-engaged scholarship to make progress on tough challenges as an undergraduate student at Virginia Tech and as a graduate student at the University of Georgia.

Kliewer understands first-hand the barriers that might prevent faculty from connecting their scholarly activity to community engagement work. However, he encourages faculty to reach out to available resources on campus and within the community, and to collaborate with those already familiar with community-based inquiry and community-engaged scholarship.

The October 2nd discussion will be held from 2:30 p.m. – 4 p.m., while the October 27th discussion will be from 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Both events will be held in Leadership Studies building rooms 126 & 127.

To read stories, learn statistics, and discover more about Cats for Inclusion, please visit: catsforinclusion.wordpress.com. More information on the Kansas State University Black Student Union and the Public Discussion and Civic Leadership Training can be found here at https://ksusankofa.wordpress.com/