23rd Annual Multicultural Seminar

Of Walls and Wars: Dialogues to Bridge Differences

Friday, November 1, 2019 from 8:30 AM - 3:00 PM

Please register by October 25, 2019.

About the Seminar: Of Walls and Wars: Dialogues to Bridge Differences. 

Despite the array of heartwarming slogans and clichés regarding the value of diversity, having meaningful conversations remains a volatile issue that often creates discomfort and polarization. Rigid and self-righteous diversity-related “talk” often makes it difficult to engage in meaningful and transformative interactions across the gulf of cultural differences. Our undying, often romanticized, commitment to inclusion and connections across cultural groups, at times, doesn’t appear to be enough to prevent vast misunderstandings, and seemingly irreconcilable stand-offs. Claims to “not see color” in a color-conscious society, or efforts to hold on fervently to the “feel good” ideal that differences don’t matter anymore, make meaningful dialogue virtually impossible. When much-needed dialogues about diversity and power differences become stifled, the creation of walls and ultimately wars are inevitable. As clinicians committed to the centrality of relationships, we must have the ‘will’ and ‘skill’ to facilitate these difficult dialogues both in and outside of therapy.

This presentation will address how walls (i.e., polarization and cutoffs based on differences) contribute to wars (i.e., conflict, domination, and thirst for punishment) between and among us. A model will be presented for how we can explore new dialogues that will move toward bridging differences that have divided us historically. Implications for addressing difficult diversity-related issues in the workplace will be discussed.


  1. To explore the anatomy of oppression and its impact on cross-cultural interactions and relationships;
  2. To deconstruct how cross-cultural tensions develop and prevent honest, meaningful interactions between and among members of different  groups;
  3. To provide a model for advancing inclusion and healthy interactions between diverse groups with a history of polarization, misunderstanding, and oppression.
  4. To provide participants with tools that will facilitate meaningful cross-cultural dialogues in the workplace.
  5.  To explore relevant cultural-related Self of the Therapist/Worker issues that may impede and/or facilitate constructive culturally-based conversations.

Of walls and wars: Dialogues to Bridge Differences. Colorful Bridge

About the Speaker

Kenneth V. Hardy, Ph.D. is a Professor at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is the Director of the Eikenberg Institute for Relationships in New York City.  He is an internationally recognized clinician, author, educator, and consultant.

Dr. Hardy has provided Diversity and Racial Sensitivity training and consultations to an extensive list of Health and Human Services agencies as well as a host of educational institutions.

He is a frequent workshop presenter, trainer, and consultant on the topics of cultural and racial diversity, trauma and oppression. He has published prolifically and is the author of numerous articles and book chapters. He has co-authored the following books: Minorities and Family Therapy; Teens Who Hurt: Clinical Interventions for Breaking the Cycle of Violence; and Revisioning Family Therapy: Race, Class, an Culture.  His latest book is Culturally Sensitive Supervision: Diverse Perspectives and Practical Applications.  He is also featured in several therapy videotapes as well as a documentary devoted to slavery.  His videotape “The Psychological Residuals of Slavery” has been well received by both the professional and lay communities for serving as a catalyst to promote conversations about race relationships.

Dr. Hardy has received considerable acclaim for the contributions that his publications and videotapes have made toward challenging our field to think critically about issues of diversity, trauma and oppression. He has been a frequent contributor to the popular media and has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Dateline NBC, and 20/20, and the Discovery Health Channel.



Date/Time: Friday, November 1, 2019 from 8:30 AM - 3:00 PM


$25 for currently enrolled undergraduate GVSU students

$50 GVSU Faculty/Staff and GVSU graduate students

$99 for Community members


GVSU Allendale Campus, Kirkhof Center: Room 2250

Check-in: 8:30-9:00 AM

Presentation: 9:00 AM-12:00 PM

Lunch (provided): 12:00-1:00 PM

Presentation: 1:00-3:00 PM 

Social Work CEUS

This seminar is for all levels of social workers. This program is approved by the Michigan Social Work Continuing Education Collaborative for 5 CEUs. An additional administrative charge of $10.00 for Social Work CEUs will be collected at seminar check-in. If you register for Social Work CEUs, please remember to bring your social work license number.

Grand Valley State University School of Social Work, an accredited social work education program, is authorized by Administrative Rule 338.2965 to award Michigan social work continuing education contact hours. 

Kirkhof Center, Room 2250