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Oct. 25, 2012 Volume 34, No. 10

Diversity Summit next week asks important questions about racism


Philosophy professor who wrote Less Than Human and The Most Dangerous Animal is keynote speaker

The third bi-annual Mizzou Diversity Summit will take place Monday and Tuesday at Memorial Union. This year’s summit is called “Show Me Respect: Promoting Civility at the University of Missouri.”

“Civility is consistently treating people with consideration and respect and valuing the culture and humanity of others,” said Niki Stanley, multimedia specialist for the Chancellor’s Diversity Initiative. 

Summit organizers hope to foster a dialogue between MU students, staff and faculty about diversity, and to plan strategies to create a more inclusive campus environment with an emphasis on civility. 

“We want people to come together,” Stanley said. “It’s a time to learn about topics we didn’t know about. It gives people an opportunity to network with people on campus who may be doing similar things.”

All events are free and open to the public. For those who register,  meals will be available. Registration is open through today.

The summit features 30 information sessions and workshops, such as “Managing Conflict in the Workplace” and “Bullies in the Workplace.” 

Debuting this year is the Human Library, in which students, faculty and staff act as “living books” that speak to visitors, or “readers,” about their experiences of racism. The Human Library is 12–4 p.m. Tuesday in S304 Memorial Union. 

Noor Azizan-Gardner, the interim chief diversity officer, said it took a year for summit organizers to find an appropriate keynote speaker. “We wanted someone who could connect with faculty, students and staff,” she said. “It cannot be a research keynote speaker. It must be someone more relevant to everyone.”

Their choice was David Livingstone Smith, who will lecture at 6 p.m. Monday. Smith, author of Less Than Human (St. Martin’s Press, 2011), will address why humans lie, demean one another and become violent. He is a philosophy professor at the University of New England, and co-founder and director of the New England Institute for Cognitive Science and Evolutionary Studies.

Smith was the winner of the 2012 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, given to an author of a work that makes important contributions to the understanding of racism and the appreciation of the rich diversity of human culture.

Less Than Human “is so critical to all of us,” Azizan-Gardner said. “We deal with the issues of how we treat ourselves in a community, and his book speaks about this important issue.”

The summit kicks off at 11:30 a.m. Monday with the State of Diversity Address by Chancellor Brady J. Deaton. 

For the complete event itinerary and other information, visit

— Ashley Carman