Jan. 28, 2019
NORTH ADAMS, MASS. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) announces it will hold the First Annual Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Conference in the Berkshires, June 11-14, and has issued a call for papers. The conference will feature world-renowned activist, commentator, educator, poet, and writer Nikki Giovanni as the keynote speaker.

Spearheaded by MCLA’s vice president of academic affairs, Dr. Emily Williams, and co-directed by Christopher MacDonald-Dennis, the College’s chief diversity officer, the theme of this event will be “Catalyzing 21st Century Discourse and Engagement on Race.”

Williams said the College is delighted to present the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Conference, and looks forwards to Giovanni’s participation in this inaugural event.

“We are excited to hear from Nikki Giovanni, one of the world’s most well-known African American poets and one of the foremost authors of the Black Arts Movement,” Williams said. “Her work is wonderfully diverse. Called the ‘Poet of the Black Revolution,’ Nikki’s work includes poetry anthologies and recordings, children’s literature, nonfiction essays, and covers social issues, human relationships, and hip hop.”

According to MacDonald-Dennis, the conference reflects MCLA’s commitment to equity and inclusion for all – both on campus and beyond. He looks forward to welcoming presenters from across the United States and around the world.

“Presenters at this conference will share their expertise and experiences from their varied perspectives on race,” MacDonald-Dennis said. “As a diverse and public institution, we seek to educate across axioms of difference. With our commitment to access and justice, there is no better place for this conference than MCLA.”

The conference will focus on historical and contemporary issues in varied formats such as plenary sessions, panel presentations, round table discussions, poster sessions, exhibitions, and performances. Participants will spend four days on the MCLA campus, as well as at locations to include MCLA Gallery 51 and MASS MoCA.

Presenters will include those who work in higher education, K-12 education, government, and community/nonprofit groups. Discussions will include those on topics that include applied sciences, formal sciences, social sciences, natural sciences, business and commerce, humanities, body arts, visual arts, and performance arts.

MCLA has issued a call for papers to those who wish to present their work at this conference. Abstracts will be accepted on topics to include – but not limited to – single and cross-disciplinary discussions from applied sciences, formal sciences, social sciences, natural sciences, business/commerce, humanities, body arts, visual arts, and performance arts.

Abstracts are requested no later than Monday, Feb. 18. Early submissions are encouraged to ensure capacity and participation. Individual abstracts should be no more than 250 words. Panel, exhibition, performance, and poster abstracts should be no more than 750 words.

Abstracts should be submitted electronically to For additional information and a full listing of submission requirements, contact the conference directors at (413) 662-5242.

Giovanni is a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. She has received numerous awards and accolades for her work, including multiple NAACP Image Awards, the Langston Hughes Award for Distinguished Contributions to Arts and Letters, and the Rosa Parks Women of Courage Award, and was named as one of Oprah Winfrey’s “25 Living Legends.”

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is the Commonwealth’s public liberal arts college and a campus of the Massachusetts state university system. MCLA promotes excellence in learning and teaching, innovative scholarship, intellectual creativity, public service, applied knowledge, and active and responsible citizenship. MCLA graduates are prepared to be practical problem solvers and engaged, resilient global citizens.

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