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New Ethnic and Gender Studies Institute Announced

Siena Heights University recently announced the creation of the Ethnic and Gender Studies Institute.

Directed by SHU Associate Professor of English Julie Barst, the institute – the first of its kind at SHU – will build on the university’s current Ethnic and Gender Studies minor program. It will also work closely in partnership with SHU’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, various SHU student groups and the Adrian community. 

“It is something we can certainly grow on campus,” Barst said. “Students are hungry to talk about race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality inside and outside of the classroom.”

According to SHU President Sister Peg Albert, OP, PhD, the institute will serve students, faculty and staff in an interdisciplinary fashion by further helping the community explore the ways that race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality are constructed within society and influence lives in powerful ways.

“It will highlight the strong dedication of both Siena Heights University and the Adrian Dominican Sisters to fighting for social justice, spreading education and awareness to all members of our communities, and combatting discrimination in numerous forms,” said President Albert. “And it will bolster Siena’s mission ‘to assist people to become more competent, purposeful, and ethical through a teaching and learning environment which respects the dignity of all.’

Barst said the institute will also offer a film and speaker series and expand educational opportunities in numerous curricular areas. She said she is in the process of forming an advisory board that will include members of the Siena community, and will also have representation from the Lenawee community, including the Adrian Dominican Sisters, who founded and sponsor the university.

“It’s going to help us form stronger partnerships with the community,” Barst said. “The institute should bring people together to focus on these important issues.”

“Our administration and I are so pleased we are working together to see this dream become a reality,” Albert said. “It is a powerful way for us to grow as a community to make our world a better place. This fits so well with our Catholic intellectual tradition and our Dominican values.”

For more information about the Ethnic and Gender Studies Institute at Siena Heights University, contact Barst at jbarst@sienaheights.edu.

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