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.

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Spring 2022 DIFCON

Coming Together as a Campus to Achieve Climate Neutrality

Date and Time: Friday, April 22, 9:00-10:30am (RSVP here)

Location: Center for the Arts, Main Stage

Intended Audience: UB Community Members

Are we ready to make change on our campus?

Our university has already cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% in the last few years, but as we continue on our path to neutrality, the tactics and strategies we take to get there will become more difficult, costlier and require greater change.

The campus and the individuals that make it the dynamic place it is will have to make key priority investments and changes that require us to give up past behaviors that drive our daily operations.  Are you prepared to eat less (or no) meat in the dining halls? Greatly reduce attending conferences in person? Pay a fee for the carbon you emitted to commute to UB? Throw on a sweater to account for a two degree thermostat drop?   Our world and our campus demand strong and swift action to mitigate and adapt to our changing climate and while many of our solutions will create greater opportunity and advance our mission of teaching, research and engagement, it is also clear that we will need to make sacrifices, specific investments and collective changes to enable broader systems transformation.

Join us for a difficult, open, fun and much needed conversation centered around what we are willing to do as an institution, a collective and as individuals to meet the challenge and how it can help advance our university’s climate action strategy. Click here to RSVP.

Presented by UB Sustainability and the Office of Inclusive Excellence

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