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Diversity Educator to Recreate Blue Eye/Brown Eye Exercise

(Posted March 15, 2010)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Jennifer De Coste, associate vice president for institutional diversity initiatives at Clarkson University, will hold a workshop at Juniata College called "Blue Eye/Brown Eye" at 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 24, in Sill Boardroom in the von Liebig Center for Science.

The presentation is free and open to the public.

De Coste, formerly a diversity specialist at Penn State Altoona, will conduct a workshop based on a grade school exercise created by former elementary school teacher Jane Elliott. Eliott, a third-grade teacher in Riceville, Iowa, created a diversity exercise in reaction to the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in which her class was divided into children with blue eyes and brown eyes. The first day, children with blue eyes were given special privileges. The second day, the special privileges were granted to the brown-eyed children.

The exercise was covered extensively in the media, inspiring documentaries by ABC and PBS, as well as two books. Elliott remained a schoolteacher in the Riceville school system for a short time after her exercise became famous and later became a corporate diversity consultant.

De Coste has worked at Clarkson University since 2008. Prior to that she was director of institutional equity and diversity at Penn State Altoona from 2004 to 2008.

Before specializing in diversity education, De Coste was a training specialist for a variety of organizations, including working as a senior training adviser at Penn State University from 2001 to 2004. She also was manager of training, education and project management at Siemens Medical Engineering from 1997 to 2004.

She earned a bachelor's degree in music and opera in 1994 from the University of Hartford. She went on to earn a master's degree in counseling in 1996 from Hartford and is currently expecting to receive a doctorate degree in women's studies and education in 2010 from Penn State.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.