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Dialogue on Diversity


Rhode Island College recognizes that society as a whole is characterized by its rich diversity, that this diversity is a basic strength, and that such diversity is expected to increase, both within society and within the College community. As an institution of higher education, the College is committed to promoting an understanding of and appreciation for the increasingly diverse backgrounds and beliefs of those who comprise the College community, as well as the larger community of which Rhode Island College is a part.


20th Anniversary Lecture - Monday, April 4, 2016

Transforming the Teaching Profession: Learning from Teachers of Diverse Populations
Dr. Sonia Nieto

Presentation: A Look Back at the Speakers Whose Voices Enriched Our Campus Dialogue

Twenty years after presenting the first keynote at the inauguration of the Dialogue on Diversity Lecture series at Rhode Island College, nationally acclaimed scholar, activist and author Sonia Nieto will return to campus to give the keynote at the series’ 20th anniversary celebration. Free and open to the public, this event will be held on Monday, April 4, from 4-5:30 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom, 600 Mt. Pleasant Ave., Providence.

Titled “Transforming the Teaching Profession: Learning from Teachers of Diverse Populations,”  Nieto’s lecture will ask, “What have we learned in the past 20 years about students of varied racial, gender, cultural and linguistic backgrounds? And what do we do with that knowledge?”

Nieto has devoted her professional life to questions of diversity, equity and social justice in education. Her lecture coincides with her recent book “Why We Teach Now” (2015), a sequel to “Why We Teach” (2005). “In the first book, I had more than 20 teachers write about why they teach. Ten years later, in light of the tremendous demands placed on teachers today, including increased accountability, privatization, high-stakes testing and so on, I’ve asked some of the same teachers why they teach now in spite of these challenges. My keynote will look at what we can learn from these and other teachers,” Nieto said.

Nieto has written or edited 11 books. Her first book, “Affirming Diversity: The Sociopolitical Context of Multicultural Education” (1992), is now in its sixth edition and is used widely in teacher education courses in the United States and abroad. The first edition was also selected for the Journal of Museum Education’s Readers’ Guide to Education as one of the 100 books that helped define the field of education in the 20th century.

Recipient of numerous awards for her scholarly work, teaching, activism and advocacy, Nieto has earned six honorary doctorates and, in 2015, election to the National Academy of Education. In 2016 she was ranked among the top 35 university-based education scholars in the RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Influence Rankings.

RIC Professor of Educational Studies Ellen Bigler, one of the event’s organizers, said, “In the 20 years since Sonia Nieto first spoke at our first Dialogue on Diversity Lecture, she has gone on to become an award-winning, nationally acclaimed scholar and advocate for critical multicultural education. In the same 20 years, Rhode Island, mirroring the nation, has become increasingly diverse, shifting from 11 percent students of color in 1990 to 24 percent in 2010 and we are projected to reach 40 percent by 2040.”

Bigler added that “now, more than ever, Sonia’s message is relevant for us as we seek to ensure that all Rhode Island students are affirmed and supported in their efforts to succeed in our schools. Her ability to synthesize the research literature from diverse fields and to integrate it with her own personal experiences, observations and research explains her popularity as a speaker. We are so fortunate to have her at RIC again to help us celebrate the 20th anniversary of our Dialogue on Diversity Lecture series.”

Anna Cano-Morales, director of the Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University and chair of the Central Falls School District Board of Trustees, noted that “Sonia Nieto’s visit to Rhode Island reminds us that, through systemic and evidence-based changes that acknowledge the demographic shifts and multilingual nature of Rhode Island’s students, especially in the core urban cities, we can continue to break down the barriers to receiving a quality education.”

This event is sponsored by Rhode Island College’s Feinstein School of Education and Human Development, the Office of Academic Affairs, the Committee on College Lectures, Division of Student Affairs, the Worldviews in Education Lecture Series, the Rhode Island chapter of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and the Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University.

RIC’s Dialogue on Diversity Lecture series is committed to promoting an understanding and appreciation of the differing backgrounds and beliefs of individuals in the college community as well as the larger community of which it is a part.

Established in 1854, Rhode Island College serves approximately 9,000 undergraduate and graduate students through its five schools: the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Feinstein School of Education and Human Development, the School of Social Work, the School of Management and the School of Nursing.

Page last updated: Monday, April 11, 2016