Conference to focus on gender-based violence, sexual harassment


The University of Michigan will host a national conference next month that aims to help faculty and practitioners collaborate to design and implement innovative research and practices that address sexual harassment and gender-based violence.

The Conference on Ending Sexual Harassment and Gender-Based Violence: Healing, Change, Transformation will take place May 18-19 at the Michigan Union and Michigan League.

It is organized by the university’s Prevention Education, Assistance and Resources Department and the Initiative on Gender-Based Violence and Sexual Harassment. The Office of the Provost, the Institute for Research on Women and Gender, and the Office of the Vice President for Research are lead sponsors.

Practitioners, staff, faculty and students from U-M and beyond are invited to discuss innovations in research and practice regarding sexual harassment and gender-based violence.

The registration deadline is May 1. Registration fees range from $50-$150, although U-M graduate and undergraduate students can attend for free.

“This event aims to be trauma-informed and interdisciplinary,” said PEAR Director Kaaren Williamsen. “The intent is to highlight practices that focus on individual and collective healing, and share novel approaches to prevent and respond to sexual misconduct in our communities.”

The first day will be dedicated to professional development workshops on incubating research into gender-based violence, circle processes, and approaches to healing for survivors. It will conclude with a reception. The second day will include a plenary, concurrent sessions, a poster session, art display and networking opportunities.

President Santa J. Ono, Provost Laurie McCauley, Vice President for Research Rebecca Cunningham and IRWG Interim Director Allison Alexy will provide remarks.

The plenary will feature a conversation about transformative justice in response to gender-based violence, with Xhercis Méndez, associate professor and vice chair of women’s and gender studies at California State University, Fullerton, and Elizabeth A. Armstrong, the Sherry B. Ortner Collegiate Professor of Sociology at U-M. 

Other featured sessions include a free satellite workshop at Michigan Medicine for health-care providers on identifying and responding to patients who have experienced intimate partner violence, led by Vijay Singh, clinical associate professor in the departments of Family Medicine, Internal Medicine and Emergency Medicine.

A session titled “Sexual Harassment and Violence in the Academy,” led by Williamsen and Lilia Cortina, University Diversity and Social Transformation Professor, and professor of psychology and of women’s and gender studies in LSA, will engage with scholars and practitioners from Michigan State University and The College of William & Mary.

Scholars at UM-Dearborn who have studied U-M’s Culture of Respect module will share their findings with the community and engage in dialogue with Frazier Benya, senior program officer at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Benya was one of the editors of the transformational 2018 NASEM report, “Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture, and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.”

A photography exhibit created by U-M alumna Laura Sinko will be on display at the Michigan League for the duration of the conference. The exhibit explores survivorship and healing journeys of women who experienced sexual assault or dating violence while on a college campus.

“Gender-based violence and sexual harassment harms individuals and communities across Michigan and beyond,” said Armstrong, who also is one of the organizers of IRWG’s Initiative on Gender-Based Violence and Sexual Harassment.

“If we as a society want to prevent harm and respond in ways that enhance healing, we need to bring researchers and practitioners together across the disciplines to learn from each other.

“The planning committee would love to see researchers, practitioners, faculty, staff and students from U-M Ann Arbor, Flint, Dearborn, and Michigan Medicine join us at this event to share their knowledge and insights with us and with each other.”


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