FOCUS SESSION I  1:15–2:15 p.m.

The King You Never Knew: Memory, Reality, and the Legacy of MLK, Jr.
Presenter: Professor Heath Carter, Department of History, Valparaiso University
Harre Union: Brown and Gold Room 264A

Description: This session explores the complicated relationship between the memory and reality of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Clips of speeches by Dr. King are shown that highlight both his widely celebrated calls for racial justice and his lesser-known opposition to the war in Vietnam, insistence on economic justice, and other controversial stances.  Students are asked to reflect on the question of what, in fact, we are commemorating when we celebrate King’s legacy.


What Do Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. Have in Common? (The Power of Nonviolent Resistance Revisited)
Presenters: Jane Bello-Brunson, Office of Multicultural Programs and Valpo Student Organizations, including AAA, BSO, LIVE,and Alliance
Harre Union: Brown and Gold Room 264B

Description: The lives and work of King (a Christian) and Gandhi (a Hindu) have much to teach us about nonviolent resistance to oppression and the struggle for freedom, justice, equality, and peace. This session includes a comparative analysis of their legacies that demonstrates how powerful the philosophy of nonviolence can be.  The analysis demonstrates the broad applicability of nonviolent principles and highlights the importance of merging high ideals with a practical, proactive program that produces positive results.


Reweaving the Bonds of Community: Service through History, Imagination,and Storytelling
Presenters: Jacob Just and Emily Royer, Porter County Museum of History and Americorps of Indiana
Harre Union: Alumni Room 269

Description: How can oral history lead to a more engaged, service-minded community?  In this interactive session, two oral-historians and Valpo alumni present their research project on a downtown neighborhood in Valparaiso.  The discussion emphasizes the relationship between place, storytelling, and service, asking the questions: What gives a place meaning?  How do we connect with one another through imagination, storytelling, and dialogue?  And how can a community’s understanding of its shared story build bridges toward service?


Creating Safe Spaces for Hard Conversations: An Introduction to Peace Circles
Presenter: Bethany Garling, Valpo Student
CCLIR: Community Room

Description: This session serves as an introduction to the restorative justice practice of peace circles. The origins of peace circles, the places where they are being used, and their potential impacts are all topics of discussion. The session explores how peace circles actually work by encouraging participants to sit in a circle and take the preliminary steps to set up a safe circle space. The goal is to create a space in which open and honest dialogue is possible.


The Dream Not Served:The New Jim Crow
Presenters: Marco Estrada and Christina Crawley, Latinos in Valparaiso for Excellence (LIVE) and Black Student Organization (BSO)
ASB: Room 237

Description: In this session, BSO and LIVE use videos and books to talk about the use of incarceration (The New Jim Crow) to target both African Americans and Latinos, arguing that bias in the judicial system manifests itself through the incarceration of African Americans and Latinos for petty crimes and low level drug “offenses.”  The goal is to educate people about how the judicial system is specifically used against minorities in today’s “post-racial” society.


Not Quite White: Arabs, Slavs, and the Contours of Contested Whiteness
Presenter: Jamil Khoury, Artistic Director, Silk Road Rising
MUH: Room 140

Description: This session explores the complicated relationship of Arab and Slavic immigrants to American notions of whiteness and is dedicated to a vision of whiteness that is anti-racist and rooted in economic justice. The session is based on the documentary film created and directed by Jamil Khoury and Stephen Combs, Silk Road Rising, which strives to advance a polycultural worldview.


SALT’s World Relief Campaign:Finding Meaning Through Fundraising and Service
Presenters: Jenni Sechrist and Nicole Wilken, Social Action Leadership Team (SALT)
ASB: Room 231

Description: This session concentrates on SALT’s annual World Relief Campaign (WRC), which takes place during the spring semester at Valpo.  The WRC encourages students to think critically about social justice in local, national, and international contexts.  Current and past SALTers, as well as Pastor James Wetzstein, also plan to discuss how SALT prepares students for lives of service.


Stone Soup Summit
Presenters: Instructor Brett Calland and Instructor Stacey Cassady, Valpo CORE
ASB: Room 115

Description: Valpo CORE students discuss their experience reading Eboo Patel’s book, Acts of Faith (2010), interviewing students from many different religious backgrounds, and the reflective papers they wrote about those experiences.  The session seeks to affirm CORE’s ability to generate student interfaith and interpersonal dialogue.


From Servanthood to Justice: One Woman’s Journey of Transformation
Presenter: Nancy Walter, LutheranDeaconess Association
Harre Union: Heritage Room 267

Description: This session describes the journey of a mid-life deaconess student as her perspective transformed from one of “charity” to one of “justice” in her work with a faith-based community organizing network focused on “real world” issues of employment and educational equity in Northwest Indiana.  The differences among charity, service, advocacy, and justice are highlighted through an emphasis on the student’s experiences, struggles, and growth.


Hip-Hop and Political Changein West Africa
Presenter: Professor Randa Duvick, Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Valparaiso University
Harre Union: Ballroom A

Description: In 2011, citizens of Senegal were frustrated with their country’s political corruption.  A group of hip-hop artists, whose music was filled with social protest, led massive demonstrations leading up to the 2012 presidential elections.  The then-President was defeated, but the struggle continues as the group – Y’en A Marre – urges their compatriots to take a new direction.  This session concentrates on Y’en a Marre and their message as youth fight for social and political change.


Building Bridges through Community Conversations
Presenters: Zahra Nwabara and Professor Stacy Hoult-Saros, 2013 MLK Co-Chairs
Harre Union: Hearth Room

Description: Join participants from the MLK Community Conversations series in this wrapup of the conversations that occurred at various venues around Valparaiso.  These conversations sought to engage our community in thinking and talking about commonalities rather than differences.  Community members previously gathered for facilitated dialogue about core values, faith and service, and to learn about the common values that exist across a variety of faith traditions.


Convivencia – Living the Dialogue
Presenter: Professor Christoffer Grundmann, Department of Theology, Valparaiso University
ASB: Room 113

Description: This session introduces participants to the concept of “convivencia” as a means to enable mutual respect and living together in a culturally and religiously diverse environment. To be carefully distinguished from “tolerance,” the concept of convivencia emphasizes the sharing of life together by celebrating festivals, sharing meals, and showing solidarity in times of existential crisis.  The issue of conflict is also addressed as the test case for convivencia.


‘Everyone’ Without Borders 
Presenter: Rima Afifi, Engineers Without Borders
ASB: Room 114

Description: This session illustrates the importance of serving others and discusses ways in which students can do so despite limited time and resources.  Particular needs throughout the world, such as those addressed by Engineers Without Borders, are presented.  Participants experience “political and cultural obstacles” as they attempt to obtain the materials necessary for building an actual bridge.  Once the bridges are built and tested, the participants discuss the challenges they encountered and members of Engineers Without Borders share their experiences related to serving a village in Tanzania.


Shining Through the Hate When the Stars Come Out
Presenters: Michael Borchert, Alliance, and Pastor Charlene Cox, The Chapel of the Resurrection
MUH: Refectory

Description: This session explores the power that words have in spreading hate and joy with respect to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning community.  Through a series of skits, those in attendance participate in a role-playing, star activity that permits them to experience how words can create or destroy individual well-being.  The focus is on discussion and personal reflection.


FOCUS SESSION II  2:30–3:30 p.m.


Islam and Its Emphasis on Community Service
Presenters: Saba Uddin and Sohaib Ahmed, Muslim Students Association
ASB: Room 235

Description: This session includes a round table discussion about the Islamic perspective on community development and service.  Emphasis is placed on the way in which that perspective is in tune with American values as well as interfaith tolerance and understanding.  The goal is to promote awareness and understanding of Islamic principles so as to begin building bridges between Muslims and other groups that emphasize community service.


Talking Across Difference: Engaging and Strengthening Diverse Community
Presenter: Yangyang Zong, Center for Civic Reflection, Valparaiso University
CCLIR: Community Room

Description: This session examines how reflective discussions can help build and engage communities by bringing people together to talk across and reflect on differences.  A dialogue and reflection model is introduced that has proven to be effective in creating dialogue across differences.  Participants are also encouraged to explore the assumptions that we make about others and the ways in which we can connect with those who are different.  This highly participatory session encourages reflection on how to bridge gaps within and between communities.


Bridging Backgrounds: Creating Classrooms that Respect Our Differences
Presenters: Professor Allison Schuette, Department of English, Valparaiso University and Alliance Adviser, and members of LIVE, BSO, Alliance, MSA, VISA, and AAA
Harre Union: Brown and Gold Room 264A

Description: In this session, Professor Schuette asks a panel of students from LIVE, BSO, Alliance, MSA, VISA, and AAA about their experiences in the classroom.  Students share possible scenarios that can make a classroom less or more inclusive to minorities.  Audience members are asked to imagine how students and faculty might respond to address these situations. The goal is to encourage a dialogue that will lead to more welcoming spaces.


Building Bridges: Valparaiso University
Presenters: Professor Alan Bloom, Department of History, Valparaiso University, and Darryl Jackson and Biancá Spencer, Valpo Students
Harre Union: Brown and Gold Room 264B

Description: Drawing on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s notion of the “beloved community” and Eboo Patel’s practice of interfaith dialogue, the question is asked, “How can ValparaisoUniversity become a more welcoming community?”  This session invites students, staff, faculty, and community members to offer their best ideas on how our campus community can reach toward Dr. King’s and Patel’s visions.


African Descendents in the Americas: Building Solidarity from Brazil & Colombia to the U.S
Presenters: Professor Ruth Needleman, Indiana University Northwest, and Carlos Cruz, Witness for Peace
Harre Union: Ballroom A

Description: Powerful interests have always used “divide and rule” tactics to keep the oppressed separate.  These tactics are not just used in a factory or a city, or even a nation. In the case of African descendents, for example, U.S. blacks were told Brazil was a “racial paradise.”  Apart from Brazil and perhaps the Caribbean, we do not learn about the presence of millions of blacks in Latin and Central America.  This session explores how to build bridges and solidarity across the hemisphere, and strengthen struggles through collective coordinated efforts.


Building Bridges in Greek Life: The Divine Nine Defined
Presenters: Amelia Vivens and Mitch Dunham, Valpo Race Relations class
Harre Union: Alumni Room 269

Description: This session describes the nine historically black fraternities and sororities that are collectively referred to as “The Divine Nine.”  As a very important part of black culture, it is argued that an understanding of The Divine Nine will encourage the building of bridges across cultures.  The implications of this aspect of black culture for Greek Life at Valparaiso University are also explored.  The session includes small group discussion and a survey.


Building Bridges and Fulfilling Dreams through Teaching Service Programs
Presenters: Professor Maryann Dudzinski and Professor John Harrison, Department of Education, Valparaiso University
ASB: Room 231

Description: The Lutheran Education Alliance with Parochial Schools (LEAPs) is a service program that provides teachers for underresourced Lutheran and Catholic schools in Chicago and Northwest Indiana.  LEAPs teachers and program staff will share with attendees the many ways that components of this service program (teaching, simple living, teachers supporting teachers in service to student and schools, and spirituality exercises) allow teachers and students to dialogue and fulfill dreams through teaching and learning about each other.


Images Related to Bridge Buildingat the Brauer Museum
Presenter: Professor John Ruff, Department of English and Valpo CORE, Valparaiso University
VUCA: Brauer Museum

Description: This session includes a gallery talk about works from the permanent collection at the Brauer Museum of Art that connect to the idea of building bridges for justice, peace, and interfaith and intercultural understanding.  Emphasis is placed on a selection of works that give us images of the dream, and blueprints of the bridges to help us reach it.  The works reflect the Brauer Museum’s intercultural and international diversity.


Bias Motivated Incidents in Northwest Indiana
Presenters: Professor Larry Baas and Professor James Old, Community Research and Service Center (CRSC), Valparaiso University
ASB: Room 237

Description: In this session, the Community Research and Service Center discusses bias motivated incidents in Northwest Indiana that are being tracked and mapped on a website ( The website contains data on more than 320 incidents since 1990. The session includes a discussion of the website and how to use it as well as examples of incidents, trends, and the impact of the dataon defining the issue in Northwest Indiana.


Service Through Empowerment
Presenters: Johannah Facer, Katie Cole, and Rachel Pollock, Student Social Work Organization
Harre Union: Heritage Room 267

Description: This session offers an introduction to the “strengths perspective” of social work, which involves looking at all aspects of a situation to find strengths, particularly identifying diversity as a strength. By doing so, presenters argue that we can empower each other and those around us through service.  By spreading awareness of the strengths perspective, it is possible to affirm the bonds between different cultures.  This discussion-based session includes an empowerment activity.


VUDU Comedy: Equally Offensive
Presenters: Nick Coratolo, Sean Watland, and Mike Micek, VUDU Comedy
NSC: Room 234

Description: Using the format of improv comedy, extensive audience participation, and open dialogue, this session facilitates participant engagement in discussing why and how comedy can offend.  Audience participation is used to generate skits and explore the issues of religion, race, and equality in a new and interesting way.


Dreams become Reality with Prayer
Presenters: Lorrie Woycik, Diane Havrilla, and Members of the Porter County Special Olympics Team
MUH: Refectory

Description: People with disabilities have dreams for their futures, just as we all do.  Realizing those dreams, however, is often more difficult.  As special needs people begin to work toward making their dreams become reality, they often help others to reach their dreams, too.  Only through volunteering and compassionate caring, determination, prayer, and encouragement do dreams become a reality.  This session emphasizes the roles of faith and service in helping people with disabilities to achieve their dreams.


Peace and Life Connections
Presenters: Professor Richard Stith, Valparaiso School of Law, and Michael Garcher, WVLP, Consistent Life
ASB: Room 114

Description: This session draws psychological and cultural bridges among various sorts of violence that are usually considered separate, including war, euthanasia, the death penalty, abortion, and racism.  Participants are encouraged to identify connections between the issues as well as build bridges among activists.


The Spirit of Competition and the Dream of Community
Presenters: Elizabeth Lynn, Director, Institute for Leadership and Service, and Professor Samuel Graber, Christ College
VUCA: Lobby

Description: This session explores Indiana’s culture of competition through a dynamic exhibit in the lobby of the Center for the Arts.  Created by Indiana Humanities and brought to Valpo by the Porter County Community Foundation, The Spirit of Competition highlights the strivings of African-American Hoosiers in particular and invites us to ask how a culture of competition relates to dreams of a just, civil society.  The exhibit is introduced, and a discussion follows.

Inclusion in the program does not constitute endorsement by Valparaiso University or the MLK Steering Committee of any of the views presented.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email