Unheard Voices is shedding new light on the diversity that is Dixie State University.
The Dixie Forum is a lecture series designed to introduce students to diverse ideas and to widen their world views. The spring series is called Unheard Voices, and it provides exposure to alternative ideas, reinforcing personal values, and deepening a student’s sense of empathy within the human experience. The series is held at the Browning Building’s Dunford Auditorium each Thursday at noon.
Joel Lewis, assistant professor of history and lecture director, said there is something innately valuable in learning about other people’s life experiences.
Lewis said students coming here with different religions, cultures and races are attracted to this community. The growth is creating cultural growing pains.
“There are voices out there that are not being heard that need to be heard,” Lewis said. “They are going to contribute very much to the St. George community and to this institution.”
The course’s philosophy is rooted in a number of premises. Active citizenship requires an understanding of a broad base of ideas and people, that humans have more in common than they typically recognize, and the strength of American democracy lies in discussion & diversity.
Dean of Students Del Beatty said he wishes there was a way the forum could have more funding to bring in big-name speakers.
“Now, more than ever, now that we are a university, we need to start doing university lecture series,” Beatty said.
Lewis said the forum only has an $8,000 annual budget that covers all speaker fees, travel expenses and advertising. However, the series has done well with a small budget.
“I’m hoping that the state administration will see wisdom in expanding out the budget because it’s important for a university to be able to bring in bigger names,” Lewis said.
Beatty said half the people who attend the lectures aren’t students at the university, and it’s great to see the institution giving back to the community.
“A successful lecture series brings in the community,” Beatty said. “That was a big selling point for us to become a university.”
Beatty said the Dixie Forum committee, of which he is a part, needs to do a better job marketing the forum to the faculty and show them the link between the topics that are being covered in the forums and the curriculum in their classes. This way they can create class assignments that utilize the lectures.
Lewis said students need to attend not only for education, but also because it’s important to understanding and appreciating diversity.
Lewis quoted Aristotle saying, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”
Beatty said a successful university is a lot like a diamond because there are so many facets to it. Each of those facets is what gives it its brilliance.
“What makes a college experience so rewarding is because it’s not one dimensional,” Beatty said. “As we plan for the future and get to that optimal state, we need to look at getting everyone involved. Together we make it magic and together we make it beautiful.”
Written for Dixie Sun News by Tony Beatty