Difficult Conversations

Difficult Conversations, or "DIFCON", is a platform that allows students, faculty and staff at UB to come together to address issues of critical importance to our community, and explore our different viewpoints. This website captures UB's efforts to lean into discomfort and create a culture of dialogue through videos and information related to DIFCON events.

On this page:

Propose a DIFCON!

The Office of Inclusive Excellence seeks proposals for our Difficult Conversations (DIFCON) series from UB students, faculty and staff interested in collaborating with us to host an event. Past DIFCON events have addressed topical, contested issues such as athletes’ right to protest, difficult name legacies, and cultural appropriation. These events typically take place over the lunch hour and are conversational in format. The Office of Inclusive Excellence can provide up to $750 in funding. If you are interested in working with us on a DIFCON event, please complete this proposal form.

Fall 2019 DIFCON

Yoga, Meditation & Cultural Appropriation

A variety of debates and controversies surround the growing popularity of yoga and meditation around the globe. In particular, some are concerned that yoga in the West has developed into an elitist, anti-diversity practice. We asked: Is practicing yoga and meditation a form of cultural appropriation? Can these mindfulness exercises be practiced in more culturally appropriate ways?

Images from the Event

Spring 2019 DIFCON

Legacies on the Landscape: Buildings and Names at UB

Considering recent national debates about meaningful and respectful cultural spaces on university campuses and how to address the difficult legacies of some past academic and political figures whose names appear on university buildings and spaces, we asked: What does the broader landscape of names say about a university? Who do we remember at the University at Buffalo? How can we make visible forgotten histories?

Images from the Event

Spring 2018 DIFCON

Wakanda Forever: Can Art Save Us?

Considering the phenomenal success of the film Black Panther, and the hope and inspiration it has fostered among many people, the Spring 2018 edition of DIFCON (March 27, 2018) asked: Is art on the side of the oppressed, as South African Nobel Laureate Nadine Gordimer claimed, or is it on the side of the oppressor, as Hollywood's 1915 The Birth of a Nation suggests? This conversation about artistic innovation, empowerment and democracy was led by Malik Sajad, graphic novelist of Munnu: A Boy from Kashmir and Guru Foundation-UB Humanities Institute Fellow; Julia Bottoms, a Buffalo Artist; Claire Schneider, Founder of CS1 Curatorial Projects of Buffalo; and James Ponzo, a UB PhD candidate in American Studies, and moderated by Kari Winter, Interim Executive Director of UB's Humanities Institute and Professor of American Studies.

Images from the Event

Fall 2017 DIFCON

Taking a Knee and Other Issues of Speech and Expression in Sports

Issues such as freedom of expression in sports, legality of mandating patriotism, controversial team and school mascots as well as discussing the use of culturally derogative language were discussed between students, student athletes, and professors.

Images from the Event

Additional DIFCON Events