Elevating the Conversation | Webster University

Elevating the Conversation

Save the Date!

Webster University's 2019 Diversity & Inclusion Conference will take place on our Webster Groves campus on February 26, 27 & 28, 2019.

From Webster's inception, we have been an institution that opened worlds that were previously closed to students. Our student body has become increasingly diverse in every way. We are a microcosm of the world across the Webster campus network and within each campus.

If you are interested in presenting at the 2019 Diversity & Inclusion Conference, please click on the link below to find out how to submit your ideas for a presentation.

2019 Diversity & Inclusion Conference Request for Presentations

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History of the Diversity & Inclusion Conference

In the fall of 2012, a group of students at the Webster University Delegate's Agenda expressed an interest in learning more about diversity and inclusion efforts on campus. As the administration was also passionate about prioritizing inclusion throughout the global Webster University community, the groups came together and developed a Global Inclusion and Diversity Summit in the Spring of 2013.

A Community Interest in Inclusion

Due to the success of the summit in 2013, Webster University administration saw the importance of developing a similar event as an annual conference. In 2016, a group of faculty, staff and students organized the first annual Embracing Diversity & Inclusion: Critical Conversations conference. The event was held in the Luhr Building and members of the St. Louis community were invited to attend along with members of the Webster University Community.

The two-day event explored ways to move forward on the continuous path of equity, valuing the strength that comes from the diversity of the community. Lee Gill, who now serves as chief diversity officer and special assistant to the president for inclusive excellence at Clemson University, returned to deliver a keynote address where he described how a university community can strategically advance a vision of excellence that includes all.

Panel discussions at the 2016 event focused on a variety of topics such as African American students shaping the future, Hispanic students and their points of view, alumni who are paying it forward, accessibility issues and campus safe zones.

2017 Conference

The 2017 Embracing Diversity & Inclusion Critical Conversations conference built upon the success of the 2016 event. Art Holliday, a journalist at KSDK Newschannel 5, served as the keynote speaker. Holliday discussed his work as an African American in journalism and his documentary film "Before They Fall Off the Cliff," which looked at how police officers are trained to deal with citizens who have a mental illness.

Panel discussions at the conference built upon the topics discussed in 2016 and strived to address different communities than in past events. Joan Lipkin and That Uppity Theatre Company returned to Webster University. Using Playback Theatre, a technique practiced in over 40 countries, That Uppity Theatre Company engaged audience members to share experiences of bullying and domination in their own lives along with stories about interventions and allyhood.

2018: Elevating the Conversation

The third year of the Embracing Diversity & Inclusion Conference elevated the conversation by presenting on a variety of additional topics to address more areas of diversity and address more of our community's concerns, thoughts and stories. Dr. Donald M. Suggs, publisher and executive editor of the St. Louis American, received our first-ever Champion for All Award and served as the keynote speaker for the event.

Panel discussions at the conference elevated the conversations started in previous years and focused on a wide range of diverse topics including:

  • Racial & Ethnic Disparities in Healthcare
  • Hate Speech/Hate Crimes
  • Examining the Criminal Justice System
  • Gender in the Media
  • Unpacking Unconscious Bias

Gitana Productions presented the play "New World" by Patton Chiles. This one-hour play is based on interviews and documented accounts of three women who came to St. Louis hoping to create a new world by healing old world wounds. Actors and representatives from the refugee community held a panel discussion following the performance.

For a more detailed look at the topics and speakers from previous conferences, please visit the Conference History section of our website. To hear audio recordings from the 2018 conference, please visit our Galaxy Radio page.