Lecture series aims to broaden students’ perspectives of inequality

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Julie Sisler

Around 28 students gathered in Downing Student Union on Sept. 18 at 4 p.m. for the inaugural Social Justice Salon, a monthly event hosted by the WKU Center for Citizenship and Social Justice.

According to a press release, the event is “a lecture series for WKU faculty, staff, students, and community members to gather and discuss complex contemporary issues surrounding citizenship and social justice.”

The event kicked off with a presentation by Professor James Kanan, who teaches in the sociology department.

“My general hope is to broaden students’ perspectives on the relevance of inequality in at least one of its forms in our day-to-day experiences,” Kanan said. “Information and knowledge are power.”

His presentation centered around inequality found in the American and Cuban experiences. Specifically, he highlighted the impacts of inequality found in housing. Kanan’s presentation delved into how housing inequality affects rates of crime, accounting for high crime rates in areas with housing issues.

Following the presentation, attendees were given the opportunity to participate in a facilitated discussion to reflect on the presentation.

Leah Ashwill, director of the WKU Center for Citizenship and Social Justice, said the series aims to teach students and community members about a variety of skills.

“It introduces our students and others to applied research and teaching and creative activity facilitated by our very own WKU faculty,” Ashwill said.

The Social Justice Salons give students and community members an opportunity to get informed on important social issues around the globe and then gain more exposure by discussing the issues with others in a facilitated environment.

“Students and community partners are more inclined to seek out these faculty-led experiences when they can come and learn and discuss face-to-face,” Ashwill said.  

Kanan said these events are a great idea for all involved.

“Change, when necessary, and it usually is, requires more than just thoughts and ideas,” Kanan said. “Dialogue, conversations, exposure … all are important steps in the process of working toward making things a little better wherever we are.”

The salons will continue on a monthly basis and are swipeable events.

The next salon will take place on Oct. 16 as part of Domestic Violence Awareness month. The event will begin at 4 p.m. in DSU room 2123 and features Dr. Dana Cuomo.

Features reporter Julie Sisler can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected] Follow Julie on social media at @julie_sisler.