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.
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 budgets are $750 or less. If you are interested in working with us on a DIFCON event, please complete this proposal form.
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?
Attendees participate in a breathing exercise to begin the event Photographer: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki
Panel moderator Susan Mann Dolce, Associate Director of UB's Accessibility Resources Office Photographer: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki
Panelist Bharat Jayaraman, meditation instructor and Professor of Computer Science and Engineering. Photographer: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki
Panelist Saba Butt, accessibility advocate and psychology student Photographer: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki
Kelly M Hayes Mcalonie, Director, Campus Planning, speaks during question & answer portion of event Photographer: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki
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?
Despina Stratigakos, Vice Provost for Inclusive Excellence, welcomes everyone to the event Photographer: Douglas Levere
Panelist Danielle Johnson, Senior Advisor/Coordinator, Acker Scholars Program Photographer: Douglas Levere
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.
Panel moderator Kari Winter, Interim Executive Director of UB's Humanities Institute and Professor of American Studies
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.
It was a packed house in 10 Capen Hall on Wednesday for the first Difficult Conversation of the 2017-18 academic year. Photographer: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki
Panelist Rhianna Rogers, associate professor of interdisciplinary studies at Empire State College (center) Photographer: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki
Panelist Donald Grinde, Professor of Transnational Studies, said former Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke told him back in 1975 that he didn’t think fans who bought tickets would agree to change the team's name. Photographer: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki
Panelist Devon Patterson, co-captain of the track-and-field team, explains that freedom of expression is an important issue for UB student-athletes Photographer: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki
Panelist Jim Jarvis, UB associate counsel, explains that any action by the state or federal government to penalize teams for their players' actions could trigger a First Amendment lawsuit Photographer: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki
Student participates during question and answer portion of event Photographer: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki
Phillip Glick, Professor of Surgery and Management and Chair of the Faculty Senate, participates during the question & answer portion of event Photographer: Meredith Forrest Kulwicki