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Mentioning the Unmentionable: Facilitating Difficult Conversations in the Classroom

September 27 @ 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

Co-sponsored by the IDEA Center and the Open CoLab.

Presenters will demonstrate how to create a climate of courageous inquiry through introduction and definition of the terms bias, prejudice, and discrimination using emotionally-neutral, often humorous examples.  Following a brief didactic presentation of Kidder’s (1995) three modes of thinking that can guide when to step into a potentially emotionally-charged topic, presenters will provide a series of vignettes to simultaneously model strategies educators can employ in their own classrooms, and engage participants in a lived experience of taking part in a discussion about a potentially challenging topic.  Participants will have opportunities to debrief and process their responses to being active participants in discussions of challenging topics.  In addition, presenters will facilitate a reflection time in which participants may begin to evaluate their own practices and synthesize workshop content.




Judith Josiah-Martin, PhD, ACSW, CADC, has been a part of the University of Maine School of Social Work faculty for 10 years, prior to which she served the UMaine community as the Director of Multicultural Student Life. Her alma maters are Smith College School of Social Work for a PhD in Clinical Social Work, and Washington University-St. Louis for a MSW degree emphasis in Social Welfare, Administration and Community Development. Dr. Josiah-Martin was the 2021 President’s Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award recipient for the University of Maine. A member of NASW ME chapter with service to the DEI committee. Past member of the editorial committee for Smith College Studies in Social Work and Journal of Groups in Addiction and Recovery. Dr. Josiah-Martin is an experienced clinician, program administrator, community advocate, educator, training consultant and researcher. Her areas of specialization include: substance use and trauma related disorders; practice interventions for under-represented and marginalized populations; and intercultural effective communication in the workplace.


Alison Smith Mitchell, PhD, LICSW is an Assistant Professor in Social Work at PSU, and recipient of the 2023-24 Transformative Teaching Award.  She earned her PhD in clinical social work from the Smith College School for Social Work and completed an MSW at the University of Maine School of Social Work.  Dr. Mitchell’s research focuses on supporting rural opioid-affected families, and on advancing social work pedagogy.  Dr. Mitchell serves as an Early Career Reviewer for the Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research.  She is on the board of the NASW-NH, and a member of the Executive Committee and Continuing Education Review Committee.  She was a Court Appointed Special Advocates for children (CASA) volunteer guardian ad litem for children in protection cases in Maine for over a decade, and was formerly a K-12 educator, administrator, and elected school board member.  Dr. Mitchell is an independently licensed clinical social worker in New Hampshire and Maine.  Outside of the classroom, she enjoys hiking, skiing, and playing with her dogs.


September 27
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm


CoLab (Lamson Library 003)


Robin DeRosa
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