URBANA - A best-selling author critical of the lack of racial diversity in history taught to American schoolchildren will headline a University of Illinois workshop, open to the public, on the issue.
?Diversity and Racism in the Classroom? will take place from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 25 in the Levis Faculty Center, 919 W. Illinois St., U.
The keynote speaker will be James Loewen, author of ?Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong? and ?Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Got Wrong.?
Loewen, a sociologist who taught race relations for 20 years at the University of Vermont, is working on a book about ?Sundown Towns,? all-white communities that for decades excluded blacks.
His talk at the UI, ?How History Made Us Racist and What to do About It,? is to examine the teaching of social studies in American schools.
He argues that from second to 12th grade, social studies and history as taught now encourage students to become ethnic elitists and, potentially, racists.
He will give examples and suggest ways to make classes non- and even anti-racist, such as using two history textbooks with divergent views to spark student inquiry.
Loewen also will give a seminar on Sundown Towns and how to research them.
Admission to the workshop, which will include presentations by more than a dozen scholars from around the country, is free.
Registration is required, however.
Other topics to be addressed range from cross-cultural communications to creating an inclusive undergraduate engineering program.
Those interested in attending can register by mail at Conferences & Institutes, 302 E. John St., Suite 202, Champaign IL 61820; by fax at 333-9561; by calling 333-2880; or on the Web at www.conted.uiuc.edu/diversity .
The seminar, part of the UI's Martin Luther King Day observance, was put together by UI history and sociology Professor Vernon Burton, who organized a similar event in Charleston, S.C., in 2001 through the Carnegie Scholars Program.
Burton said participants in South Carolina found the experience to be exciting, as well a vehicle for improving relations between higher education and the community, prompting him to want to try it here.
He praised the presenters for waiving a fee to speak at the event and the UI chancellor's and provost's offices for their support. Other sponsors include the National Center for Supercomputing Applications; the Union of Professional Employees; the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities; the MultiCultural Center; Illinois Christian Faculty and Staff; the Silicon, Carbon, and Culture Initiative; the UI Office of Continuing Education; the Martin Luther King, Jr., Week Commemorative Planning Committee; Teach for America; the Buddy Core Committee; and the Center on Democracy in a Multiracial Society.