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Back in person, NIU’s CODE Institute calls upon Huskies to become facilitators

July 20, 2021

With an upcoming in-person program and a future virtual option, NIU’s CODE Institute invites faculty, staff and graduate students to become CODE facilitators.

The CODE Institute trains facilitators for the university’s Conversations on Diversity and Equity (CODE) Workshops, a series that engages students, faculty and staff in learning about cultural differences.

Offered as an online experience last year, the institute has shifted back to a two-day intensive, in-person program to be held Aug. 11-12, with plans for a virtual option this spring. At the in-person program, COVID-19 guidelines will be followed, including social distancing, and masks will be encouraged.

Anyone interested in the program should contact Jocelyn Santana, director of Social Justice Education for Academic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, at [email protected]. The registration deadline is Aug. 6.

“We’re excited to be back in person,” Santana said. “The institute is a good space to be able to come in and learn and then be agents of change within our institution. Participants have an opportunity to explore and build self-awareness as it relates to themselves and society as a whole.”

Facilitators provide supportive learning environments where participants can gain a deeper understanding of themselves and their interactions with others and acquire skills to prepare them to live and work in an increasingly diverse society.

Participants can join the institute to gain knowledge and engage with their peers about cultural competency and differences. Most participants join the course to engage with the NIU community and become proficient in having and facilitating conversations that matter. The knowledge gained in the institute pours over into classrooms, department services, policies and practices and student resources.

Facilitators from across campus not only have used their CODE experiences to help conduct workshops, they’ve incorporated it into their teaching and interactions with students.

“Once you go through this you are part of something bigger, something that has a real impact on the campus community,” said J Pappas, assistant director for Social Justice Education.

Always valuable, NIU’s CODE programs took on added meaning amid recent unrest in the country and remain invaluable at NIU.

“I think we definitely are seeing a lot of energy from campus in this arena,” Pappas said. “We see a huge growth in engagement in faculty and staff. We’re hoping that this momentum continues through the summer, and we’ll be able to have lots of folks interested in the fall.”

Among numerous topics, participants in the workshops explore interesectionality of identities (race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, ability, economic justice, nationalism and system of belief) and how these identity layers inform daily experiences of inclusions or treatment of otherness.

Those who take part will gain a deeper understanding of themselves, as well as terms and concepts used in diversity and social justice education, such as privilege, oppression, power and conflict.

“I think it’s important for our community to come together and work toward having common language and an understanding on these topics,” Santana said.