Faculty members to teach seminar on racism

Seton Hall faculty members will host a weekly, two hour seminar about racism for faculty members next semester. The seminar will be held every Tuesday, 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Jan. 22 through April 30, and will be taught by Drs. Mary Balkun, Anthony Haynor, and Anthony Ziccardi.

Sarah Yenesel/Photography Editor

Racism is the notion that members of certain social groups, who share physical and ethnic characteristics, are innately inferior to the those of other groups. Father Anthony Ziccardi asserts that this is a lie and mistaken idea.

“With Drs. Balkun and Haynor, I quickly seized upon the invitation because of my intellectual and faith convictions that racism is a cultural and social evil that must be eradicated because it is contrary to the oneness of the human family and the innate dignity of all human beings, a dignity that stems from their origin and destiny in God,” he said.

The seminar has two purposes. To educate about inclusivity and to provide materials and resources related to racial justice and equality. The weekly gathering will be a sanctuary for self-reflection and dialogue about discrimination.

Father Anthony Haynor said, “It has been the seminar’s goal to be somewhat unsettling, given that we are asking faculty to critically assess their own deep-seated attitudes on race. But, we are trying to accomplish this within a safe, interactional space that can accommodate different viewpoints.”

The participating faculty will accomplish six things by the end of next semester. First they will have obtained a thorough understanding of racism’s historical genesis and its costly and devastating effects in history.

Participants will gain a thorough understanding of racism’s origin, the devastating impact racism has had on history, and its current dynamic. As for self-reflection, the faculty members will become aware of how embedded racism is in all of our own psyches and how it affects perception, thoughts, and actions while they teach and research, and in turn they will learn how to involve informed, honest, and positive dialogue about racism in their classroom.

Another important takeaway will be an appreciation of the mixed nature of the influence of the Judeo-Christian tradition in the history of racism, as well as the trajectory of the tradition’s development into the present.

An additional tool they will gain is an innate commitment to introducing informed, constructive, and positive (thoroughly honest, but non-accusatory and defensive) dialogue about racism into their classroom.

Lastly, the participating faculty will have embraced a hermeneutic of suspicion, with regard to racism and to other similar cultural strategies of marginalization and oppression, as they conduct their own research and writing, and also as they review others’ scholarly output.

In regards to this, Dr. Mary Bulkan said, “What the participants have in common is a deep commitment to diversity in their teaching and to making Seton Hall a truly inclusive community. They are also committed to creating learning spaces that are safe and respectful, and I believe the courses they develop will have a lasting impact on the students who take them and will serve as models for other courses. One of the things I’ve valued about this seminar is the variety of faculty involved and disciplines represented.”

Father Ziccardi concluded, “When people of faith and reason come to see that something is wrong, it is incumbent upon them to do something. ‘The truth will set you free.’” (John 8:32).

The effort was initiated by an invitation from the Provost to put together a grant proposal for the Lumina foundation. The information about the seminar was found in the online article.

Kristen Horoho can be reached at kristen.horoho@student.shu.edu.

Author: Kristen Horoho

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