GCU conference aims to heal with character

December 03, 2021 / by / 0 Comment

By Mike Kilen
GCU News Bureau

Grand Canyon University’s daylong conference on Monday, Dec. 13, at GCU Arena occurs at a significant juncture.

“It’s one of the most important times in our American history to talk about this. We are so fractured. How do we come back together?” said College of Education Dean Dr. Meredith Critchfield. “This is one important event to come back together.”

Building Virtues Conference: Character Education in a Changing World isn’t solely for COE students and faculty. It is a University-wide effort that includes partner schools.

Its value is as much for the boardroom as the classroom. At the conference, experts and peers will share experiences and strategies to infuse virtues into everyday professional practice.

“COVID exposed fractures wide open, so now it’s our job to share character education in a much bigger way,” Critchfield said of the free conference, funded by Kern Family Foundation and available via livestream or in person by registering here by midnight Monday, Dec. 6.

“Character education is the idea that we can support individuals and communities by teaching character traits, the idea that if we can teach character traits we can help society flourish.”

Clifton Taulbert

Keynote speaker Clifton Taulbert will share his message of starting life in the cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta as a migrant field worker until he found a gift of community that reshaped his vision of himself.

The international lecturer and author was picked to lead off the inaugural conference for his reputation as an inspirational motivator of character and “someone who is an expert at building up community – what we do well at GCU,” Critchfield said.

The afternoon speaker, Dr. Marvin Berkowitz, will provide strategic ways to bring character into the classroom or workplace.

Berkowitz is McDonnell Professor of Character Education and Co-Director of the Center for Character and Citizenship at University of Missouri-St. Louis. He directs the Leadership Academy in Character Education.

Marvin Berkowitz

He is author of the 2021 “PRIMED for Character Education: Six Design Principles for School Improvement” (2021) and the founding co-editor of the Journal of Character Education.

The conference will include dialogue and breakout sessions on servant leadership, social-emotional learning and building a school culture of value and ethics.

“Most schools focus so heavily on academics. That’s important, but what we believe in the College of Education and at GCU is we have to develop the whole human,” Critchfield said. “How do we help people not be just better students but better humans?”

Grand Canyon University senior writer Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-6764.


What: Building Virtues Conference: Character Education in a Changing World

When: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday, Dec. 13.

For: GCU students and faculty and University partner schools.

Registration: Event is free and includes lunch with registration, open until midnight, Monday, Dec. 6. Register here.

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