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Coming Together for Racial Understanding

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Eighteen staff from Purdue Extension and the College of Agriculture met at the Wright Forestry Center from May 21-22 to participate in a facilitated dialogue on race and racism as part of the national program Coming Together for Racial Understanding (CTRU).

Kris Parker (Community Development), Mindy Mayes (Health and Human Sciences) and Michael Wilcox (Community Development) were joined by Dionardo Pizaña (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Specialist, Michigan State University Extension) to facilitate the dialogues. The dialogues are aimed at building capacity within Purdue Extension to conduct action planning on race and racism within Purdue Extension and the College of Agriculture, and within the communities across Indiana that Purdue Extension serves. Following the dialogues, a train-the-trainer was held on May 23rd to deepen the conversation for those interested in facilitating future dialogues.

The first two days were filled with opportunities to explore the issues associated with race using techniques such as self-reflection, interviews, interactive activities, and facilitated discussion. Participants were encouraged to bring items that reflected their own personal culture as well as articles that highlighted situations in Indiana and the nation regarding race and racism. Participants also reviewed national and state-level data which provided additional context for an action planning process on the second day.

The train-the-trainer on the third day was an opportunity for some participants to take a deep dive into the content that undergirds the CTRU program. Led by Dionardo Pizaña, the training focused on the personal preparation prospective facilitators should undertake to be ready to lead community dialogues on race and racism. The Indiana CTRU team hopes to pilot the program in two communities in 2020.

Coming Together for Racial Understanding is currently underway in twenty states across the country.

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