Cultural and Linguistic Diversity Conference: Living and Working Together

March 29, 2017 - 8:00am to 3:00pm

Cultural and Linguistic Diversity Conference: Living and Working Together

University of Pittsburgh
March 29, 2017
8:00 AM-3:00 PM
University Club Ballroom A

Keynote Speech: Dr. Valerie Kinloch

Associate Dean, Diversity, Inclusion, & Community Engagement, College of Education & Human Ecology, OSU
Incoming Renée and Richard Goldman Dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Education

Registration required

Authors: Abdesalam Soudi, PhD (Conference Chair);
Jeannette E South-Paul, MD (Conference Co-Chair);
Shelome Gooden, PhD; Judy Chang, MD, MPH; Scott Kiesling, PhD

Hosted by: Departments of Linguistics; Family Medicine; Obstetrics, Gynecology, & Reproductive Services

Corresponding author: Abdesalam Soudi, PhD

Conference Overview and Goals

The conference around the topic of humanities in health that we organized last year was a great opportunity to showcase and foster diverse collaborations between humanities and health in research, education, and other work throughout our community. To celebrate the year of diversity, we are building on this successful multi-disciplinary collaboration to organize a conference on cultural and linguistic diversity.

Language serves as a spoken expression of culture, and in turn, influences our thinking process and our culture as well. Things like accent, word choice, identity, race, ethnicity, conversational style, and so on come into play 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 sometimes lead to serious miscommunication problems in the work place and elsewhere.

Culture includes many components: behavior, religion, background, 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 will start the event with a keynote speech about cultural and linguistic diversity, and then we will share through an expert panel how we approach cultural and linguistic diversity in our classroom, clinic, in the office, and with others. We will also prompt participants to share their views about connection between language and culture and assumptions they make based on how people talk. We will summarize those tellings, and discuss various ways for raising awareness and developing appreciation for culture and linguistic variation.

We will use a culture box discussion/show and tell methodology. The goal of the culture box is to help us and others understand our life stories, and how these affect how we face tasks and interact with others. The ultimate goals are: 1) to share that the physical and verbal items in our culture box are not left behind when we come to work or school. Rather, we are bringing them along with us and creating space for them in our interactions within Pitt and elsewhere and we must appreciate them, 2) reflect on how recognizing the impact of culture and language on others can improve our relations and communication styles.

Overall, this event is an opportunity to:

  • Learn about each other’s culture, language, & worldview
  • Share your view about connections between language & culture
  • Share how you approach cultural & linguistic diversity in your work
  • Value the positive impact of interdisciplinary focus at Pitt
  • Network and forge connections

Organizing Committee:

Abdesalam Soudi, PhD, Conference Chair
Jeannette E South-Paul, MD, Co-Chair
Shelome Gooden, PhD
Judy Chang, MD, MPH
Scott Kiesling, PhD
Allison Thompson, Conference Administrator
LaShanda Lemmon-Mangham, Conference Website Support

Link to event flyer