Learning Series

Learning Series

To increase our institutional capacity for equity and inclusion, we host an annual learning series to galvanize our collective change efforts. Engagements in the learning series vary from customized sessions for UVA leadership, small group discussions with students and faculty, as well as large public presentations and performances.

Learn more about the series below and access the event calendar to find more learning opportunities of interest.

2022-2023 Learning Series Resources

Access more information, articles, and resources from 2022-2023 speakers by clicking on their name:

Shakti Butler

On September 15, 2022 we hosted Dr. Shakti Butler for a presentation and conversation focused on "Planting Seeds for the Future". This presentation focused on how we work towards a vibrant future where belonging, not othering, is the norm through bridging and other collective relationships. 

Shakti Butler, Ph.D., visionary, filmmaker, transformative learning educator, wife, mother, grandmother and friend to many - is Founder and President Emeritus of World Trust Educational Services, Inc., a non-profit transformative educational organization. Rooted in love and justice, Shakti produced films, curricula, workshops and long-term projects that are catalysts for institutional, structural and cultural change. Shakti is an inspirational speaker, facilitator, trainer and lecturer who is sought after by schools, universities, public and private organizations, and faith-based institutions. Dr. Butler has produced five documentaries. They are The Way Home; Mirrors of Privilege: Making Whiteness Visible; Light in the Shadows; Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity; and Healing Justice, released in 2017, intended to popularize a national conversation about justice, healing, and the youth-to-prison pipeline. Dr. Butler also served as diversity consultant and advisor on the Oscar-winning Disney animated film, Zootopia, which focuses on challenging bias and systemic inequity. Shakti’s work incorporates whole body learning through stories, art, movement and dialogue. 

The event was co-sponsored by the UVA Office of Multicultural Student Services. You can learn more about Dr. Butler’s work, information around the concept of bridging for belonging, and University efforts to promote belonging from the links below: 

Cornel West

Join us on Thursday, October 13, 2022, at 6 pm at Old Cabell Hall for an evening with Dr. Cornel West. This event is free and open to the public and will include time for a Q&A moderated by Robert Trent Vinson, Director, and Chair of the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American & African Studies.

Dr. Cornel West, affectionately known to many as Brother West, is the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Chair at Union Theological Seminary. Dr. West teaches on the works of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, as well as courses in Philosophy of Religion, African American Critical Thought, and a wide range of subjects -- including but by no means limited to, the classics, philosophy, politics, cultural theory, literature, and music. He has a passion to communicate to a vast variety of publics in order to keep alive the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. – a legacy of telling the truth and bearing witness to love and justice.

Dr. West is the former Professor of the Practice of Public Philosophy at Harvard University and Professor Emeritus at Princeton University. Cornel West graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard in three years and obtained his M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy at Princeton.

He has written 20 books and has edited 13.  He is best known for his classics, Race Matters and Democracy Matters, and for his memoir, Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud. His most recent book, Black Prophetic Fire, offers an unflinching look at nineteenth and twentieth-century African American leaders and their visionary legacies.

Cornel West visited UVA in 2017 for a talk "The Profound Desire for Justice":


2021-2022 Series Resources

Access more information, articles, and recordings from each speaker in the 2020-2021 series by clicking on their name below.

Ashanté Reese

Dr. Ashanté Reese is assistant professor of African and African Diaspora Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. Broadly speaking, Dr. Reese works at the intersection of critical food studies and Black geographies, examining the ways Black people produce and navigate food-related spaces despite anti-Blackness. Animated by the question, who and what survives?, much of Dr. Reese’s work has focused on the everyday strategies Black people employ while navigating inequity. Her first book, Black Food Geographies: Race, Self-Reliance, and Food Access in Washington, D.C., takes up these themes through an ethnographic exploration of anti-Blackness and food access. Black Food Geographies won the 2020 Best Monograph Award from the Association for the Study of Food and Society. Her second book, Black Food Matters: Racial Justice in the Wake of Food Justice, is a collection co-edited with Hanna Garth that explores the geographic, social, and cultural dimensions of food in Black life across the U.S.

In an event DDEI co-sponsored with the School of Architecture Office of the Dean in February of 2022, Dr. Reese delivered a talk titled "Black Lives, White (Sugar) Empires: Notes on Confinement and Care in the Wake of the Texas Prison System". Dr. Reese shared a message around not simply reckoning with the past and reimagining justice but freedom making practices in the afterlives of slavery and the long emancipation. While the event was not recorded you can view Dr. Reese speaking about  some of her work on Black food Geographies in the video linked below. You can also learn more about related efforts of University students, faculty and community partners by accessing their work from the links below:



Ruha Benjamin

Ruha Benjamin is Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, founding Director o the Ida B. Wells Just Data Lab, and author of the award-winning book Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code among many other publications. her work investigates the social dimensions of science, medicine, and technology with a focus on the relationship between innovation and inequity, health and justice, knowledge and power.

On April 28, 2022 UVA Data Activist Renée Cummings moderated when Dr. Benjamin joined the UVA community virtually for a talk titled "Race to the Future? Reimagining the Default Setting of Technology & Society".  The event was co-sponsored by DDEI, the School of Data Science, the School of Engineering, the School of Education and Human Development, and UVA Facilities Management. The event was not recorded but you can view a similar talk Dr. Benjamin delivered at the 2021 AAAS Annual Meeting.

You can also learn more about related efforts of University students and faculty through the links below:

UVA Center for Data Ethics and Justice

UVA Center for Diversity in Engineering


2020-2021 Series Resources

Access more information, articles, and recordings from each speaker in the 2020-2021 series by clicking on their name below.

Sharon Fries-Britt

Sharon Fries-Britt is a Professor of Higher Education at the University of Maryland, College Park in the Department of Counseling, Higher Education and Special Education (CHSE).  She is a University of Maryland Distinguished Scholar Teacher. Her research examines the experiences of high achieving Blacks in higher education, underrepresented minorities (URMs) in STEM fields and issues of race, equity and diversity. Dr. Fries-Britt has published widely within peer-reviewed journals and she has served on the editorial boards of The Journal of College Student Development, The Journal of Diversity in Higher Education and the College Student Affairs Journal. Her research has been funded and supported by the Lumina Foundation, National Society of Black Physicists and the National Science Foundation.

While Dr. Fries-Britt led a custom session for UVA Leadership in 2020 that was not recorded, you can watch her U. Maryland "Terrapin EdTalk" to learn more about her work.

Eduardo Bonilla-Silva

Eduardo Bonilla-Silva is Professor of sociology at Duke University.  He gained visibility in the social sciences with his 1997 American Sociological Review article, “Rethinking Racism: Toward a Structural Interpretation,” where he challenged analysts to study racial matters structurally rather than from the sterile prejudice perspective. His book, Racism Without Racists (5th edition in 2017), has become a classic in the field and influenced scholars in education, religious studies, political science, rhetoric, psychology, political science, legal studies, and sociology.

Dr. Bonilla-Silva joined us in November 17, 2020 for an event co-sponsored with UVA Sociology which was moderated by Dr. Rose Buckelew. While the event titled "What Makes Systemic Racism Systemic" was not recorded at UVA, you can watch a video of his talk at the University of New England on the same topic.

Eddie Glaude Jr.

Eddie S. Glaude Jr. is an intellectual who speaks to the complex dynamics of the American experience.  His most well-known books, Democracy in Black: How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul, and In a Shade of Blue: Pragmatism and the Politics of Black America, take a wide look at black communities, the difficulties of race in the United States, and the challenges our democracy face.  He is an American critic in the tradition of James Baldwin and Ralph Waldo Emerson.  In his writings, the country’s complexities,  vulnerabilities, and the opportunities for hope come into full view. Hope that is, in one of his favorite quotes from W.E.B Du Bois, “not hopeless, but a bit unhopeful.”

The recording of this events was made available exclusively to participants. You can watch a video of Eddie Glaude Jr. in conversation with Cornel West about his 2020 book Begin Again: Jame's Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own.

Laura Morgan Roberts

Dr. Laura Morgan Roberts is a Professor of Practice at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. She is an innovative global scholar, speaker and consultant on the science of maximizing human potential in diverse organizations and communities. Her thought leadership in diversity, authenticity and leadership development has been recognized by LinkedIn (Top 10 Voice in Equity; 2020); Thinkers50 (On the Radar, 2021); ThinkList #Amplify (2020), and the Academy of Management Organizational Behavior Award for Societal Impact (2020).

Dr. Morgan Roberts led a session for University executive leadership and also spoke to our community about "Beating the Odds: Black Women and Leadership Legacies" On March 23, 2021.

You can also watch Dr. Morgan Roberts from a resent presentation on Race, Work, and Leadership.

Ijeoma Oluo

Ijeoma Oluo is a Seattle-based Writer, Speaker and Internet Yeller. Her work on social issues such as race and gender has been published in The Guardian, The Stranger, Washington Post, ELLE magazine, NBC News and more. Her NYT bestselling first book, “So You Want to Talk About Race”, was released January 2018 with Seal Press. Ijeoma was named one of the Most Influential People in Seattle by Seattle Magazine, one of the 50 Most Influential Women in Seattle by Seattle Met, one of The Root's 100 Most Influential Americans in 2017 & 2018, and is the recipient of the Feminist Humanist Award 2018 by the American Humanist Association, the Media Justice Award by the Gender Justice League, and the 2018 Aubrey Davis Visionary Leadership Award by the Equal Opportunity Institute.

Watch a short video where Ijeoma Oluo discusses why it is often hard to talk about race and racism.

Ibram X. Kendi

IBRAM X. KENDI is one of America’s foremost historians and leading antiracist scholars. He is a National Book Award-winning and #1 New York Times bestselling author of seven books. Kendi is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities and the Founding Director of the Boston University Center for Antiracist Research. Kendi is a contributor writer at The Atlantic and a CBS News Racial Justice Contributor. He is also the 2020-2021 Frances B. Cashin Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for the Advanced Study at Harvard University. In 2020, Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world. His relentless and passionate research puts into question the notion of a post-racial society and opens readers’ and audiences’ eyes to the reality of racism in America today. Kendi’s lectures are sharp, informative, and hopeful, serving as a strong platform for discussions on racism and being antiracist.

Curated Essays

You can learn more about Dr. Kendi's work by watching the short video "American Slavery", which is part of a larger video series hosted by Learning for Justice in support of teaching hard histories.

Buy the Books from the UVA Bookstores Speaker Series Collection


June 11, 2024
12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
Diversity, equity, and inclusion. These are words that effect many of our lives but what do they really mean? How are they defined? What can they mean to you?
June 13, 2024
12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
June 18, 2024
12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
This presentation will provide an overview and definition of the concept of microaggressions.