skip to main content

Department of Political Science

University of Mississippi

Dialogues on Diversity Series to Focus on Pandemic, Policing, Politics

Dialogues on Diversity Series to Focus on Pandemic, Policing, Politics

Diversity Series graphic OCTOBER 20, 2020 BY JB CLARK

The University of Mississippi‘s Division of Diversity and Community Engagement is kicking off its annual Dialogues on Diversity series next week under the theme, “Nationwide Now: Reckoning with Inequities in Pandemic, Policing and Politics.”

“Over the past few months, many painful inequities around the world have come to light,” said Shawnboda Mead, interim vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement. “As a university, we strive to foster a campus climate where all individuals are valued, supported and feel a sense of belonging.

“This Dialogue on Diversity series is an excellent opportunity to gain additional knowledge, skills and awareness about current issues and inequities facing our state and nation. We invite all members of the university community to join us for this engaging series of timely and necessary conversations.”

Tanya Nichols, project manager for diversity and community engagement, said she hopes these discussions can provide a way for students to make sense of recent events and what can be done.

“This year, we thought to ourselves, we can actually be really timely,” Nichols said. “We can map our topics onto current events.

“I kept thinking about this past summer – George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery – I’m thinking about all the questions students must have. This is another opportunity for them to have a framework for these conversations or a way to contextualize them.”

The series begins Wednesday (Oct. 21), with a panel discussion on inequities in the pandemic, featuring Dr. Leandro Mena, professor and chair in the UM Medical Center’s School of Population Health and director of its Center for HIV/AIDS Research, Education and Policy; Lori Ward, assistant professor of research in the school; and Rodney Washington, associate professor of population health science.

On Monday (Oct. 26), Francis Boateng and D’Andre Walker, both UM assistant professors of criminal justice and legal studies, will discuss inequities in policing.

The series closes Oct. 28 with a discussion of inequities in politics, featuring Melissa Bass, associate professor of public policy leadership; Marvin King, associate professor of political science; and Nidhi Vij Mali, assistant professor of public policy leadership.

“We take the approach to do a series of three talks that are dynamic and student-focused instead of a lecture,” said Brittany Brown, a graduate assistant in the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement and an organizer of the event. “They get to interact with and learn from the speakers.

“It focuses on pertinent topics in flux in our nation – of course, right now with pandemic, policing and politics, which are at the forefront of everyone’s mind: ‘How did we get to the current state of affairs regarding each of these issues?’”

Students can submit questions to the panelists in advance. All events will be held at 6 p.m. via Zoom. Registration forms can be found at the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement website.