Plenary Sessions

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Discourse & Dessert: Recipe for a More Inclusive Environment

“I joke that I had my midlife crisis when I came out of college,” said Nina Godiwalla, the speaker at Saturday’s Evening Plenary on Gender Issues, familiarly known as Discourse & Dessert. In reality, the bestselling author of Suits: A Woman on Wall Street, spent almost a decade working for Fortune 500 corporations before the cumulative effect of her experiences prompted her to choose a different professional path.

Her reflections on her minority status—as a woman, the daughter of immigrants, a Texan and a public university graduate in a world dominated by white, male, Ivy-league alums—resonated with a broad range of people who also felt like outsiders in the workplace, and led to her current career.

Ms. Godiwalla shared her story and offered a recipe for creating environments where people feel included: 1. Promote awareness of our biases; 2. Respond to biased remarks or behaviors that undermine others; 3. Speak up.

2014 ADEA Annual Session & Exhibition Video

Opening Plenary Session

Dr. Eagleman started by providing basic brain facts. Almost all of what we do in our daily lives is run by our subconscious brain, and there is a gap between what our conscious mind can access and what the rest of our brain is doing.

The unconscious brain is ruthlessly efficient, which leads to a tendency for the brain to take the path of least resistance in learning. As educators we need to shake students off of the path of least resistance and prepare them for the next decades, where the tools and theories they are using and learning today will change. There are five ways to do this: promoting active learning; using guided teaching; setting idea quotas; enlisting all the senses; and creating enriched environments

Dr. Eagleman then discussed the next generation of students and what is different about them. They are “digital natives” and wired to learn differently. Dr. Eagleman concluded by asserting that many educators are digital immigrants and need to catch up with their students. If we continue to give lectures the way we always have, we can’t expect our students to be engaged and learn.

ADEA Political Spotlight: Van Jones

Van Jones

At Monday’s Political Spotlight plenary session, CNN Crossfire’s Van Jones provided a look at the political landscape from the perspective of the Progressive faction of the Democratic Party. He started by providing the Progressive perspective on several issues, including taxes, debt and the deficit and President Obama’s green energy portfolio.

Mr. Jones went on to say that in the current political environment, the basic business of the government is not getting done. Infrastructure is not getting fixed, health care reform is not getting fixed and the education system continues to tumble behind the rest of the world. These are bipartisan issues that Congress could be working on, but is not.

We can have the debate, he said, but let’s have it based on the fundamental assumption that everyone loves this country. The key is to stop talking about each other and talk to each other so we can achieve the dream of liberty and justice for all.

Closing Plenary Session