Keynote: Black Lives Matter at SUNY: Disrupting White Supremacy in the Classroom and on Campus, 10:15 AM – 11:15 AM

Speakers: Kiersten Greene and Anthony Dandridge, SUNY New Paltz 

In their keynote presentation, Professors Anthony Dandridge (Black Studies) and Kiersten Greene (Teaching & Learning) will situate the Black Lives Matter at School (BLMS) movement in a P-20 educational context. Drawing on their ongoing experience of establishing and growing the BLMS Collective at SUNY New Paltz, they will trouble the historic siloing of K-12 and higher education. They will reflect on the numerous obstacles and successes of their collaborative work over the past three years, and will tie that work to their contribution to the text Black Lives Matter at School: An Uprising for Educational Justice. Finally, they will challenge participants to consider how the SUNY System is complicit in reproducing white supremacy while also providing the necessary educational groundwork for action, change, and ultimately, abolition.

Presentation Session A (Campus Climate), 11:20 AM – 12:20 PM

Presentation 1: Creating a Custom LGBTQ+ Ally Training Program for College Employees: Braver Spaces at Suffolk County Community College

Speaker: Susan Wood, Suffolk County Community College

This presentation will cover the process of creating a customized LGBTQ+ ally training program, from curriculum development to assessment.  Braver Spaces LGBTQ+ Ally Training Program for College Employees is a 2-part professional development program for Suffolk County Community College (SCCC) employees interested in increasing their understanding of the sex/gender system and the LGBTQ+ community, as well as developing a skill set for practicing active allyship.  This program was developed in 2018 as an initiative of the SCCC LGBTQ+ Task Force. The goal of the program is to create a visible and active network of employee allies to support the LGBTQ+ community at SCCC and to help create an inclusive and welcoming environment for all.  Attendees will leave with an action plan and checklist for starting their own unique programs at their institutions.

Presentation 2: An Analysis of Academic Culture and its Impact on Young Professionals

Speaker: Marisa Petrusky, Stony Brook University

As more students of diverse backgrounds enter higher education, our strategies for guiding students into the professional world must account for a broader range of perspectives and experiences. In STEM academia especially, many struggle to simultaneously learn and adapt to the cultural climate and often rigid expectations established by centuries of Western scholars. When considering the low retention rates of STEM majors and the “leaky pipelines” of underrepresented groups in STEM fields, it becomes imperative that we arm young professionals with the tools to recognize, remain steadfast in, and advocate for changes in the environments of the careers they pursue. In this talk, I discuss the three main characteristics of Western academic culture that students struggle with most, how they manifest in higher education structures and early career opportunities, and how leaders can take steps to reform these attitudes while maintaining the quality of our academic research institutions. 

Presentation 3: Perceptions of Racism within SBU’s School of Social Welfare 

Speaker: Dena Spanos, Stony Brook University

This PhotoVoice project was used as a final project for an elective within the School of Social Welfare titled ‘Understanding White Fragility and Black Rage’. A group of four students, both BSW and MSW, collaborated to investigate how racism shows up within the social welfare program at Stony Brook. We outline students’ perspectives, opinions, and attitudes taken from a survey and subsequent interviews and offer a set of suggestions for change. Through this presentation, we hope to illuminate the importance of racial equity within the confines of higher education. 

Presentation Session B (Pedagogy and Instruction), 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM

Presentation 1: Instructional Strategies for Diverse Learners and Vulnerable Student Populations

Speaker: Victoria Boecherer, Public School Teacher and Adjunct Instructor

Elementary and secondary education teachers are trained to support all students to succeed academically using a variety of instructional strategies. This includes the large population of diverse learners — including, but not limited to, students with learning disabilities, developmental and communication disorders, limited verbal or written English fluency, and those raised in poverty and/or unstable home environments. These factors are shown to have a significant impact on the development and academic progress of young learners, and these effects are exacerbated the longer they go ignored. Higher education faculty are not typically afforded the opportunity to learn how to support diverse learners, and some believe that, by virtue of the admissions process, they should not have to: students who cannot meet the academic standards of the institution do not belong and should pursue an education at an open enrollment institution. Then the COVID-19 pandemic occurred, and the challenges it presented — the suddenness of issued health guidelines, the uncertainty of how to offer, process, and assess learning of academic content, the overwhelming volume of information known and unknown, and the desperation of trying to make order out of disorder. Meanwhile, colleges and universities were left in precarious financial positions, scrambling to maintain their enrollment numbers, preserve the quality of instruction offered, and while keeping all those on campus safe. Faculty, staff, administration, students — suddenly everyone became a “diverse learner” overnight. This presentation offers faculty and instructional staff a number of simple strategies commonly used by K-12 educators to support academically vulnerable students, with the added benefit of reducing stress for the instructor.

Presentation 2: Inclusion through the study of Exclusion: Equity in a College Research Course

Speakers: Keith Pardini and Fabio Montella, Suffolk County Community College

The advancement of Critical Pedagogy in recent years has brought forth a new generation of educators who are passionate about encouraging learners to study and challenge the structures of power and oppression.  In allowing students to study and challenge these structures, educators take on the role of facilitators while students take an active role in the discovery of information.

In this presentation, academic librarians Keith Pardini and Fabio Montella discuss how the design and content of their LIB 101 courses adhere to the philosophies of Critical Pedagogy, and how the coupling of Critical Pedagogy and the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy has benefited inclusivity and equity in the classroom.  In addition, they discuss their roles as facilitators of information discovery and how this approach has benefited student learning in these environments. Examples of such are as follows:

Instruct students to search for information using a wide range of resources that vary in creation and dissemination. 

Instruct students to recognize the value of diverse ideas and newfound inquiries.

Encourage students to keep an open mind and examine a plurality of voices.

Presentation 3: Google Mapping Inequality on Long Island

Speaker: Jaime Hartless, Farmingdale State College

Long Island is right next door to one of the most racially diverse cities in the country. However, it is also one of the nation’s most expensive places to live and is intensely segregated by race and social class. Since its residential patterns are so deeply shaped by histories of redlining and white flight, Long Island is an ideal location for teaching about social inequality. Yet there are also certain challenges for facilitating these conversations as these residential patterns mean that students may struggle to see what life is like for people outside their personal bubbles. I argue that my Google Mapping Inequality on Long Island assignment can help students from diverse backgrounds better understand these dynamics. By inviting students to use tools like Google maps and Zillow to compare the daily lives of hypothetical low-income residents at two different Long Island addresses, I argue that students can better see the different lives people live based on their zip codes, including how racial and class segregation shapes educational, employment and health outcomes. After reflecting on the logistics of the assignment and the kinds of connections it enabled my Sociology students to make to the course material, I will conclude with a reflection on how assignments like these could have implications for social justice work outside the classroom.

Concurrent Sessions, 2:15 PM – 3:45 PM

Track 1 – Panel and Presentations

Panel: Campus Partnerships: How They Can Lead to Access and Inclusion

Speakers: Wendi Mathews, Glenn Dausch, and Patricia Dunn, Stony Brook University

This session will explore how to identify key campus stakeholders involved or interested in the field of disability services or accessibility and how to create opportunities for collaboration. The panel will discuss resources for implementing accommodations and access to assistive technology. Attendees will learn the importance of designing accessible course content and how inclusivity can create access for all.

Presentation Session C (Post-College Transition)

Presentation 1: Bachelor’s Degrees: Students Propelled Out of Poverty, Off of Medicaid

Speaker: Amy S. White, Lehman College

Research demonstrates that Medicaid recipients are satisfied with their insurance. College students who live under the poverty limit qualify for Medicaid, but upon graduation, may receive a new job with a higher salary, out-earning Medicaid income requirements. Graduates transition to their employer’s private insurance. Private insurance does not have as high satisfaction ratings as Medicaid has. An extant literature review did not identify any peer-reviewed publications studying college graduates transitioning from Medicaid. Removing eligibility for a form of health insurance for whom recipients are generally in favor of could be problematic. This phenomenological study explores the lived experiences of 15 recent college graduates and what contributed to a successful transition off Medicaid and onto private health insurance. In the presentation, I will present findings from my research, making recommendations to advance equity as well as conduct future research.

Presentation 2: Homegrown Co-Curricular Campus Micro-Internship Program: Access to Experiential Learning 

Speakers: Michelle Wohlman-Izakson & Kerry Weir, SUNY Old Westbury

Applied learning internships provide students with structured and authentic experiences that sharpen both the soft and hard skills that future employers seek.  As Long Island businesses and agencies confronted the realities of managing the new safety protocols dictated by the COVID-19 disruption, SUNY College at Old Westbury students seeking internship experiences saw those opportunities evaporate.  Companies shuttered their doors, sent employees to home offices, and denied students access to local internships.  Securing experiential learning opportunities during the pandemic was an issue of access and equity.   

In response to the need for student opportunities, The Office of Applied Learning launched The Panther PLATFORM for Applied Learning Internship Program.  By creating access to an applied learning experience, the PLATFORM Program afforded equity to working students, students with children, and students with transportation and/or health challenges.  Collaborating with The School of Business, 7 micro-internships were created.  These included, for example: Virtual Research Assistant to the Dean of the School of Business and a Justice for Fraud Victims Project Intern. 

The foundation of The Panther PLATFORM for Applied Learning Internship program is based on the best practices and lessons learned during the COVID-19 disruption that afforded students access to diverse opportunities.  In the future, the PLATFORM will enable the scaling and expanding of internships to include virtual, hybrid, and on-campus opportunities. The development of the micro-internships on our campus demonstrates the role that higher education can take in creating access for students to diverse experiential learning.   

Track 2 – Workshop

Workshop: Freedom: The Art of Risk Through Jazz Improvisation

Speakers: Thomas Manuel and Ray Anderson, Stony Brook University

At the heart of the American born art form of Jazz are two essential elements: improvisation and spontaneity. Presented by Stony Brook University Artist in Residence Dr. Thomas Manuel this workshop will explore sources and techniques rooted in Jazz improvisation that can be applied to all curricular areas and life in general. Topics explored include: democracy, playfulness, emotion, collaboration, courage, will, concentration, acceptance, risk, the power of limits, patience, trust and dedication. It is a workshop based in learning by doing and participants will improvise from moment one learning the importance of improvisation in Jazz as well as in life through a variety of improvisation exercises.

A strong emphasis of this workshop will focus on the goal of expanding each participants awareness of the role historically of Jazz musicians to elicit social change, especially in regard to civil rights, race relations and individual freedoms, and how those lessons and accomplishments of the past are useful tools to spark change today. 

Learning objectives are specifically based upon what American Jazz composer and pianist Billy Strayhorn considered to be the most important of moral freedoms. These four freedoms of expression which he lived and insisted upon include: 

Freedom from hate, unconditionally; 

Freedom from all self-pity (even throughout all the pain and bad news); 

Freedom from fear of possibly doing something that might help another more than it would help himself; 

Freedom from the kind of pride that could make a man feel he was better than his brother or neighbor.”

The overarching objective of this workshop is to explore how, as suggested by Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington, our problems are opportunities for us to do our best.