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January 11, 2018

Social Justice Week Symposium to Focus on Bridging Generational Gaps at Work

The Division of Student Affairs’ Office of Cross Cultural and Leadership Development (CCLD) kicks off 2018 with its 10th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Social Justice Week. Of special interest to staff and faculty? A unique professional development session Thursday morning, Jan. 18.

The Social Justice Symposium — a yearly headliner of Social Justice Week — addresses a topic surrounding cultural issues of the moment. This year’s event focuses on generational identities and relationships in the workplace.

“Creating a Just Community Across the Ages” will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 18, in the William Pitt Union Assembly Room. It is open to all Pitt faculty and staff. It will be facilitated by BridgeWorks, a group that works with organizations to bridge generational gaps in the workplace.

As BridgeWorks notes, every person can identify with a generation; it’s one of the identities that brings people together. But in a workforce that includes five distinct generations — traditionalists, baby boomers, Generation X, millennials and Generation Y — those divisions can also create challenges for communication.

From a University-wide survey, “We found that a lot of folks wanted some training around ageism and understanding each other, so we wanted to address that” as part of this week, dedicated to honoring Dr. King’s life and commitment to civil rights, said Sherdina Harper, coordinator of cross cultural and leadership development programming in Student Affairs.

The symposium will involve a Jeopardy-style trivia game for faculty and staff called GenPOP! to get co-workers talking and reminiscing about generational pop culture.

“One of the things we want to continue to encourage and promote is the importance of inclusion,” while being inspiring, said Harper. GenPOP! will be the “icing on the cake of this year’s Social Justice Symposium, so we can laugh and enjoy each other as we continue to learn,” she said. Every generation brings something valuable to the table. “Just think where we would be if we could bring the ages together and gain from each other’s experiences, without competition, in a meaningful way.”

If You Go

Social Justice Symposium: “Creating a Just Community Across the Ages”

Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018
9 a.m.-1 p.m.
WPU Assembly Room
The symposium is open to all Pitt faculty and staff.
Register by Friday, Jan. 12, at the symposium’s registration website.

Other Social Justice Week Events

There are several other events on Monday’s Marin Luther King Jr. holiday and throughout the week, open to faculty and staff, including:

Monday, Jan. 15

MLK Day of Service

Support Pittsburgh-area communities and nonprofits by volunteering on- or off-campus from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. A light breakfast, lunch and a T-shirt will be provided. (Registration closed Monday, Jan. 8, for students, faculty, staff and alumni.)

Remembering a Brother

At exactly 7:06 p.m. on Dec. 4, 1906, the first chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha was founded. The group was the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity for African-Americans and people of color. It gave support and a voice to minority students who faced discrimination in universities across the country, and many of its members were at the forefront of the civil rights movement, including Dr. King.

At 7:06 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 15 (King’s birthday), a candlelight vigil will be held in his honor in the William Pitt Union driveway, followed by a discussion in 538 WPU hosted by Pitt’s Alpha Phi Alpha chapter, established in 1913.

Tuesday, Jan. 16

Luncheon Honoring Dean Larry Davis

Equipoise, an African-American affinity group for Pitt faculty, staff, students and administrators, will join the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and CCLD in honoring Larry Davis, dean of the School of Social Work and director of the Center on Race and Social Problems. Davis will receive Equipoise’s Creating a Just Community Award, which recognizes the exceptional achievements of citizens who strive to build equality in every sector.

Faculty and staff can find event details and RSVP information here.

Wednesday, Jan. 17

Interfaith Service

Heinz Memorial Chapel will showcase an artistic memorial of King’s life at 7 p.m. with music and dance performances, singing, visual arts and spoken word poetry. The event is free and open to the public.

Micaela Fox Corn,, 412-624-4065

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