2017 Cultural and Linguistic Diversity

Cultural and Linguistic Diversity: Living & Working Together

Held March 29, 2017

Keynote Speaker:  Valerie Kinloch, PhD, Associate Dean, Diversity, Inclusion & Community Engagement, College of Education & Human Ecology, OSU and Incoming Renee and Richard Goldman Dean of the University of PIttsburgh School of Education

The theme of this multidisciplinary conference that celebrated the University of Pittsburgh Year of Diversit 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 start edthis 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.

Sponsored by:

The Department of Linguistics

The University Honors College

The Office of the Provost

UPMC Department of Family Medicine

UPMC Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Services