An essential element of inclusive excellence is the broad engagement of faculty, staff and students across the institution in the work, which requires campus-wide opportunities and mechanisms for professional development, continuous learning and capacity building. Next spring, with support from the Johnston-Fix Foundation, Whitman College will launch the Third Space Speaker Series, which will feature scholars, artists, writers and thought leaders whose work helps to advance inclusive excellence at Whitman and will serve as an intentional manifestation of the college’s stated commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and antiracism. The concept comes from the work of Homi K. Bhabha and Kris Gutierrez, who see a third space as one of transgressive possibilities and where those who are often confined to the margins are centered. 

The Third Space Speaker Series places two scholars in dialogue with each other and with the Whitman community in an intellectual space where cultural humility, cultural wealth and cultural pluralism converge. Proffered by Drs. Melanie Tervalon and Jann Murray-Garcia, the concept of cultural humility encourages a commitment to lifelong learning, cultivation of empathy and attentiveness to positionality (i.e. the power and privileges associated with particular social group identities). Cultural wealth, theorized by Tara Yosso, focuses on the depth and richness of the cultural capital present in marginalized communities that is far too often unknown, degraded or diminished in majority spaces. Cultural pluralism is defined by Madelon Stent, William Hazard and Harry Rivlin as “a state of equal co-existence in a mutually supportive relationship.” Stent and colleagues recognized the need for an ethic of reciprocal respect among and across cultural groups with significantly different practices, patterns of belief, languages, ideologies, phenotypes and knowledge ways, who also had distinct orientations to and histories with the land, all operating in the same locality or context.

The Third Space Speaker Series brings cultural humility, wealth, and pluralism together to  provide opportunities for transformative educational experiences that can challenge our assumptions, inspire new questions and contribute to our personal and intellectual growth. Some of the speakers already confirmed for the series include: Lissa Ramirez-StapletonSheeva SabatiSubini Ancy AnnammaScott BrooksNicholas Villanueva and Leigh Patel. Additional information about the Third Space Series will be forthcoming. Please feel free to contact diversity@whitman.edu for more information.