Penn State students invited to explore unconscious bias on Oct. 27

Event to feature immersive simulation to uncover ‘blind spots’

"Check Your Blind Spots,” an immersive experience for students to examine unconscious bias, will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27, outside the HUB-Robeson Center on Pollock Road at University Park. Credit: Patrick Mansell / Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As part of Penn State's ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion, students are invited to participate in “Check Your Blind Spots,” an immersive experience to examine unconscious bias, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27, outside the HUB-Robeson Center on Pollock Road. 

Just as the human eye has blind spots in its field of vision, the human mind can experience unconscious — or hidden — biases that can unintentionally inform beliefs about various groups and affect an individual's behavior. These blind spots can exist no matter how unprejudiced an individual strives to be in his or her thoughts and actions, and can be related to gender, race, age, religion, sexual orientation and more.   

“We all have pre-existing biases and this program is intended to raise awareness and engage in a broader conversation about topics, like gender and race, which we know are important to many Penn State students,” said Jason Gines, director of the Office of Inclusion and Diversity Engagement in the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST). 

The event will offer students the chance to discover the nuances of their own unconscious biases and will feature videos, quizzes and other activities to learn about diversity and inclusion on campus and in the workplace. The event is sponsored by Penn State's Office of Educational Equity, Paul Robeson Cultural Center, Union and Student Activities, Office of Diversity Enhancement Programs in the Smeal College of Business, and Office of Inclusion and Diversity Engagement in IST. 

“We hope students will be empowered with new knowledge to help them identify and strip away their biases in order to better understand themselves and the part they can play in creating a more welcoming environment for every member of the Penn State community,” said Jamie Campbell, assistant dean for diversity enhancement programs in the Smeal College of Business. 

Students will have the opportunity to walk through an immersive simulation on a 30-foot-long trailer and complete various activities to examine their own blind spots. In addition, participants can learn about companies and potential employers that support diversity and inclusion. 

“‘Check Your Blind Spots’ is about creating communities and cultures where diversity and inclusion can thrive,” said Carlos Wiley, director of the Paul Robeson Cultural Center. “It’s especially important for students — our future leaders — to challenge assumptions and engage in these conversations not only while they’re at college, but as they become part of the workforce.”

The “Check Your Blind Spots” event is a series of campus tours organized by CEO Action, a group of more than 270 CEOs and university leaders who have committed to working together to advance diversity and inclusion within U.S. workplaces. 

Last Updated October 30, 2017