Multicultural Education Pioneer, Sonia Nieto, to Present Keynote at RIC’s

20th Anniversary Celebration of Dialogue on Diversity

PROVIDENCE, R.I. –Twenty years after presenting the first keynote at the
inauguration of the Dialogue on Diversity Lecture series at Rhode Island College,
nationally acclaimed scholar, activist and author Sonia Nieto will return to campus
to give the keynote at the series’ 20th anniversary celebration. Free and open to
the public, this event will be held on Monday, April 4, from 4-5:30 p.m. in the
Student Union Ballroom, 600 Mt. Pleasant Ave., Providence.
Titled “Transforming the Teaching Profession: Learning from Teachers of Diverse
Populations,” Nieto’s lecture will ask, “What have we learned in the past 20 years
about students of varied racial, gender, cultural and linguistic backgrounds? And
what do we do with that knowledge?”
Sonia Nieto 1
Nieto has devoted her professional life to questions of diversity, equity and social
justice in education. Her lecture coincides with her recent book “Why We Teach Now”
(2015), a sequel to “Why We Teach” (2005). “In the first book, I had more than 20
teachers write about why they teach. Ten years later, in light of the tremendous
demands placed on teachers today, including increased accountability, privatization,
high-stakes testing and so on, I’ve asked some of the same teachers why they teach
now in spite of these challenges. My keynote will look at what we can learn from
these and other teachers,” Nieto said.
Nieto has written or edited 11 books. Her first book, “Affirming Diversity: The
Sociopolitical Context of Multicultural Education” (1992), is now in its sixth
edition and is used widely in teacher education courses in the United States and
abroad. The first edition was also selected for the Journal of Museum Education’s
Readers’ Guide to Education as one of the 100 books that helped define the field of
education in the 20th century.
Recipient of numerous awards for her scholarly work, teaching, activism and
advocacy, Nieto has earned six honorary doctorates and, in 2015, election to the
National Academy of Education. In 2016 she was ranked among the top 35
university-based education scholars in the RHSU Edu-Scholar Public Influence
Rankings.
RIC Professor of Educational Studies Ellen Bigler, one of the event’s organizers,
said, “In the 20 years since Sonia Nieto first spoke at our first Dialogue on
Diversity Lecture, she has gone on to become an award-winning, nationally acclaimed
scholar and advocate for critical multicultural education. In the same 20 years,
Rhode Island, mirroring the nation, has become increasingly diverse, shifting from
11 percent students of color in 1990 to 24 percent in 2010 and we are projected to
reach 40 percent by 2040.”
Bigler added that “now, more than ever, Sonia’s message is relevant for us as we
seek to ensure that all Rhode Island students are affirmed and supported in their
efforts to succeed in our schools. Her ability to synthesize the research literature
from diverse fields and to integrate it with her own personal experiences,
observations and research explains her popularity as a speaker. We are so fortunate
to have her at RIC again to help us celebrate the 20th anniversary of our Dialogue
on Diversity Lecture series.”
Anna Cano-Morales, director of the Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams
University and chair of the Central Falls School District Board of Trustees, noted
that “Sonia Nieto’s visit to Rhode Island reminds us that, through systemic and
evidence-based changes that acknowledge the demographic shifts and multilingual
nature of Rhode Island’s students, especially in the core urban cities, we can
continue to break down the barriers to receiving a quality education.”
This event is sponsored by Rhode Island College’s Feinstein School of Education and
Human Development, the Office of Academic Affairs, the Committee on College
Lectures, Division of Student Affairs, the Worldviews in Education Lecture Series,
the Rhode Island chapter of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher
Education and the Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University.
RIC’s Dialogue on Diversity Lecture series is committed to promoting an
understanding and appreciation of the differing backgrounds and beliefs of
individuals in the college community as well as the larger community of which it is
a part.
Established in 1854, Rhode Island College serves approximately 9,000 undergraduate
and graduate students through its five schools: the Faculty of Arts and Sciences,
the Feinstein School of Education and Human Development, the School of Social Work,
the School of Management and the School of Nursing.