Center aims to raise cultural awareness

The UVM Center for Cultural Pluralism (CCP), which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, is continuing its efforts to deal with issues of culture and social justice in the university environment.The Center was founded in January 1999 by Annie Allen, who, according to CCP Director Sherwood Smith, served as the first upper-level diversity officer at UVM.Located in the Allen House, the organization works in close proximity with neighboring rooms in the building, including the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Ally (LGBTQA) organization, the Cooperative Christian Ministry, the Hillel Jewish organization  and a variety of other groups who regularly use the space for meetings.Smith, who also serves as a professor in the College of Education and Social Services, heads the staff of three.”The focus of the Center is to work with faculty in terms of classroom climate, in terms of curriculum, in terms of more inclusive teaching, along with helping student groups program events, providing workshops and speakers,” Smith said.As director, Smith said he tries to help formalize the vision and the mission, along with coordinating efforts throughout the Allen House with different groups. “I act sort of as an in-house consultant,” he said.The CCP has also collaborated with ALANA, U.S. Ethnic Studies, Global Village, Living/Learning and even the Burlington Police Department, Smith said.Along with work involving other organizations, Smith welcomes student participation.”There are a variety of ways students can get involved,” Smith said, “and we often make it happen by partnering up with different people.”The Center collaborates with student groups that relate to social justice, as well as invites students to suggest films and speakers.The organization is currently searching for artists to exhibit their work in the Fall Multicultural Art Shows, which are open to the public.