Diversity and Equity in Higher Education

Date:  Sunday September 25, 2011
Speakers:  Rich Garcia, Director, Diversity Student Affairs and Services
Jonathon Pierce, Westminster Student Body President
Hillary Pierce, Westminster Student

 Rich Garcia is currently Director of Diversity Student Affairs and Services at Westminster College and worked in Diversity at the University of Utah for 10 years emphasizing access and equity for historically underrepresented and underserved populations in higher education. Jonathon Pierce is the current Westminster Student body President and holds a strong commitment to equity and social justice. Hillary Pierce is special assistant to her brother Jonathon and is active in several student organizations on the Westminster campus. She also is committed to equity and social justice.

This presentation will focus on issues of access and equity pertaining to higher education. Areas of discussion will include access to higher education for historically underrepresented populations, campus climate for these populations and barriers that underrepresented groups must navigate in order to obtain their education and career pursuits.”

Speaker-Suggested References and Resources:
Racism without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States. By Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. By Peggy McIntosh
“Frontline” Secrets of the SAT (1999))


Preachers, poets, and prisoners as partners in Scientific Research and Communication on Plants and Animals of the Forest Canopy

Date:  Sunday December 11, 2011
Speaker:  Nalini M. Nadkarni

Dr. Nalini Nadkarni, known as “The Queen of the Forest Canopy”, is a professor at The University of Utah. She received her B.S. degree from Brown University, and her PhD from University of Washington. She has carried out forest canopy research in Costa Rica and in Washington State. Her awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellowship, and the 2010 Public Service Award from the National Science Foundation. She has published over 90 scientific articles and four books. She believes deeply in engaging public audiences in collaborations and communications of the scientific enterprise. Her work has been highlighted in popular magazines such as Natural History, Glamour, and Playboy Magazine. In 2008, she created the “Research Ambassador Program” to train other scientists to do outreach to public audiences in non-traditional venues, such as prisons, churches, and prisons.

“Two of our greatest problems today are the growing gaps between people and nature, and between science and society. I describe my own scientific research in “the last biotic frontier – the rainforest canopy, focusing on the ecological roles that canopy-dwelling plants and animals play in forest ecosystems. I also relate the ways that I have interwoven my findings to a wide variety of public audiences by linking ecological values of canopy biota to aesthetic, spiritual, recreational, and social justice values of society outside of academia. I discuss the goals and activities of the University of Utah’s new Center for Science and Math Education, and how citizens can get involved with the scientific enterprise.”

Speaker-Suggested References and Resource:
Nalini M. Nadkarni. 2008. Between Earth and Sky: Our Intimate Connections with Trees,           University of California Press, Berkeley.
Richard Preston. 2007, The Wild Trees, Random House NY.