2017 Cultural and Linguistic Diversity

Cultural and Linguistic Diversity: Living & Working Together

Held March 29, 2017

This multidisciplinary conference was held to celebrate the University of Pittsburgh Year of Diversity. The theme of the conference was “Living and Working Together”. We focused on cultural and linguistic diversity because we believe such variety broadens perspectives, enhances trust and communication, and is vital to an informed and engaged society.

Language serves as a spoken expression of culture, and in turn, influences our thinking process and our own philosophy. Traits like accent, word choice, identity, race, ethnicity, and conversational style interact as we interpret language meaning. Variations in language use, different ways of saying the same thing, underlie human attitudes to language and engagement with others and may lead to miscommunication in the work place and elsewhere.

Culture reflects many characteristics including religion, language, race, ethnicity, nationality, family, age, and gender; it is revealed in behavior, social norms, assumptions, values, and more. It has long been compared to an iceberg: what is visible is both supported and dwarfed by that which is unseen. Those invisible, but essential, elements are significant and shape who we are. Allowing room and time to learn about these hidden aspects of our identities may lead to better rapport and increased cultural sensitivity.

We started this event with a keynote presentation by Dr. Valerie Kinloch about cultural and linguistic diversity. Thereafter, two panels discussed how they approach and embrace cultural and linguistic diversity in their work and life. Broadly speaking, diversity may mean different things to different people. So, in preparation for this event, we also interviewed several people at Pitt about: (1) what diversity means to them, (2) the value of diversity in their life and work, and (3) their opinion about the most effective way to support diversity.

We prompted all participants to share their views about the connections between language and culture and summarized those ideas in order to discuss various ways of raising awareness and developing appreciation for cultural and linguistic variation. There were blank posters by registration, and we invited participants to write on them to communicate what diversity means to them.

More information on the conference program can be found here.

Living and Working Together: The Value and Meaning of Diversity, Directed and Produced by Abdesalam Soudi, PhD. © 2017, University of Pittsburgh, ISAN 0000-005-ED5E-0000-B-0000-0000-4

Volume (forthcoming)
Murrell, A., Petrie, J., Soudi, A. (Forthcoming) Diversity Across the Disciplines: Research on People, Policy, Process, and Paradigm, Information Age Publishing (IAP)

• Link to Photos

Sponsored by:

Pitt's Year of Diversity
UPMC Health Plan
UPMC Center for Engagement and Inclusion
University of Pittsburgh, Honors College
University of Pittsburgh, Department of Linguistics
University of Pittsburgh, Department of Family Medicine