Doctoral program students and guests expand their perceptions of diversity

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Brandman School of Business and Professional Studies faculty members Jalin Johnson and David Gonzalez.

The winter immersion session for Brandman University’s Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership first- and second-year students doesn’t just bring students from throughout the U.S. and faculty members together to learn from each other. It also provides an opportunity to introduce potential students to the program by inviting them to a keynote address.

This year’s keynote featured Brandman faculty members Jalin Johnson, Ed.D., and David Gonzalez, DPS, who spoke about “diversity cognizance” or the way that transformational leaders can make room for diverse backgrounds and perspectives at the decision-making table.

The talk focused on how the concept is “relevant across an array of fields, professional and personal settings,” reported Johnson, who used her experience-content-perspective (ECP) model to spark discussions about “how our lived experiences shape the context with which we view any given situation, and, in turn, influence the perspectives that we bring.”

Using facilitated sessions, some with the whole group and others broken into small groups, Johnson and Gonzalez walked participants through a key questions assessment and then gave attendees the opportunity to face their perceptions and assumption and share what they discussed with the larger group.

Johnson said the challenge is to consider the many different experiences and perspectives in the room while being mindful of diverse opinions and allowing those to each be valued.

Discussions about diversity encompassed socio-economic status, military status, disability and accessibility, ageism, equality, gender, implicit bias, sexuality and equity-centered themes.

Gonzalez and Johnson were told by one participant that they took “a difficult topic, adding a bit of humor and spice and creating a safe place for all to learn, grow and communicate.”

Students and visitors in a post-session survey praised both the choice of topics and the activities included. “I would have loved to spend the entire day on this topic. It is so needed in our communities and country right now!” wrote one.

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