BEYOND: Diversity

Ideas and opportunity abound with this year's BEYOND series

Lights, festive clothing and tasty food meet great opportunity as an eclectic mix of students and faculty are collaborating on the “BEYOND: Diversity” event series.

The BEYOND Initiative began in 2012 with the theme of the Silk Road. Last year, BEYOND expanded further with Mythologies. This year, the Office of International Education and the Diversity and Inclusion Office have partnered for this year’s theme: Diversity.

BEYOND held it’s flagship exhibit event for this semester in the IRC on October 19.

“There were many different interactive elements that attendees could engage in at various banner stations,” explains Katie Davidson, Project Manager of the BEYOND Initiative. “The banners were set up in a manner that provided the authors of the banners the opportunity to really engage with those who came to the event.”

Murtadha Alwail is an automotive engineering major from Saudi Arabia who photographed the event.

“I learned many things at the event, like new information about Germany and Tolerance of Ambiguity,” Alwail says. “The Office of International Education was accommodating to all the people.”

BEYOND’s Exhibit event also served as a “mini study-abroad fair,” providing students information on educational opportunities abroad including international internships.

Lisa vonReichbauer, Assistant Director of the Office of International Education, explains that through study-abroad, “students can learn how to implement global themes in an experiential learning opportunity that carries over into their career development.”

vonReichbauer reports that over 400 people attended the Exhibit event to engage with faculty and students.

The series continues throughout the year with speakers, dinners, panel discussions and workshops. In the spring semester, BEYOND is organizing “Minds Aflame.” A speaker series similar to a TEDx conference, vonReichbauer says it will “challenge students to think outside the box.”

“The really neat thing about the Beyond project is that it brings the entire campus together,” says Tara Braun, International Admissions Coordinator. Braun says “It provides an academic theme for the entire year.”

In fact, being “co-curricular” is one of BEYOND’s main objectives.

“Many, if not all, of the professors who took part in writing content for the banners for the event discuss diversity in their classrooms,” Davidson says. “We hope that others have taken this opportunity to put diversity into their curriculums if it wasn’t there already.”

Dr. Piram Prakasam, Director of the Office of International Education and professor of chemistry, explains that diversity is being taught in some unexpected ways. Professors have involved diversification studies in sports communication, biology and ecology, to name a few.

“All that conversation, it’s not in terms of the traditional gender and ethnic diversity. It’s a diversity of ideas and a diversity of opportunities,” Prakasam said.

“There are definitely still ways to get involved,” says Katie Davidson. “So check out the calendar periodically for upcoming BEYOND events and join us in the discussion on diversity!”

For more on the Office of International Education and the BEYOND series, visit