Workshops for Schools and Universities


If your school is interested in any of the following workshops, please contact Christine Ristaino.  Thank you so much! 

Talks and Workshops for Students and Faculty

All the Silent Spaces: A Personal Story of Overcoming Violence:  This is less of a workshop and more a recounting of my own story in the hopes of creating space for the experiences and healing of our country as a whole around the topic of violence. In this talk, I will describe my own experience of being attacked in front of my children, how it forced me to look back at other experiences of violence in my life, and how it led to partnering with communities and people who had also experienced disempowerment in order to create something new. I will place my experience within the context of the “me too” movement and talk about my memoir, All the Silent Spaces, which describes what it’s like when you must rebuild, when catastrophe sends you whirling out of control until you land in a new orbit and anchor yourself there. My talk will move between the greater issues associated with trauma and the very personal voyage of overcoming grief, never taking its eye off social justice issues around violence, racism, and identity in a changing world. This talk is about changing the dynamic of a life, the emerging of a voice.

Telling Our Stories:  What does it mean to be a survivor of violence, racism, rape, tragedy, loss. Often times as survivors we feel separated from society, unable to communicate who we are or what we are feeling. Sometimes we are denied the right to talk about our experience because the topic is deemed “inappropriate.”  Other times we are expected to heal within a designated period of time or “just get over it.” In this workshop, we will talk about what it means to tell our stories and how we can bear witness to the stories of others in order to heal without time constraints or the pressure to adhere to cultural norms or expectations.  We will discuss how storytelling can be a way to define our own experiences and learn about ourselves. Storytelling can also be a way to let go.  This workshop is about creating space for survivors to find or take back our own voices.

 Difficult Conversations Workshop:  What constitutes a difficult conversation?  How often do we engage in them within our community? Why do difficult conversations matter and why do we need to have them in our lives? This workshop will get to the heart of what a difficult conversation is and why these conversations are important. The group will workshop student-generated scenarios and a general discussion will follow. The workshop will close with goal-setting for future conversations and a discussion about what’s at risk by not having them.

Changing the World Through Thought Leadership:  The OpEd and Public Scholarship:  How do we create public scholarship around topics that matter to us?  And how do we reach a wide audience in a manner that leads to social change?  In this workshop, we will explore why what we know matters in the world and how we can use our knowledge and ideas to create change on a deeper level.  We will focus on the OpEd and how, through this medium, we can engage a wide range of readers through publication in top media outlets.  In what areas can we share our knowledge?  How do we pitch an idea? How do we write about difficult topics?  How can our voice make a difference? How can we be thought leaders?  This workshop works well in student settings and can also be offered to faculty in a format that includes the topic of teaching in our fields utilizing OpEds as a pedagogical tool.

 Empowerment Strategies for Students of all Identities:  Remember a time when you felt completely empowered in a class, meeting, or social situation.  What was that like? How did you feel physically? Emotionally?  What did your voice sound like?  Now remember a time when you felt disempowered. What was that like? In this workshop, we will talk about how empowerment and disempowerment affect language, body posture, communication, voice, and group dynamics in both situations. How does serial disempowerment affect students who experience it? How can we prevent students in our community from becoming disempowered? How do we recognize disempowerment, of an individual, of  a group?  What does advocacy look like for those who are disempowered? How can we turn disempowerment into agency? In this workshop we will discuss strategies we can use in our everyday lives to help empower ourselves and those around us.

Leadership Through Self-Knowledge:  Many of our most effective leaders show who they are and what they value in everything they do. But what is a leader and what is the relationship between leadership and self-knowledge? In this workshop we will discuss how important it is to reach inside of ourselves and learn what we think and believe before taking on leadership roles. We will talk about how building leadership skills starts with self-knowledge. Come learn about leadership, but more importantly about yourself.

 Wouldn’t It Be Nice and Why Can’t You?  Professorly Advice for College Students:  How can college be a transformative experience, so much so that what we believe and who we are comes out in every interaction, in everything we do?  What can we do to reprogram some of the negative messages we have been hearing as a result of our family history, economic situations, identities, backgrounds, self- and societal-messages, and family expectations, in order to gain the most from our experiences at college.  Putting our ideas and ourselves out there, without fear, and owning our college experience away from home is what this workshop is about.

Forced Code Switching in the World of Education:  From class preparation, to teaching in the classroom, to assigning homework, to assessment – every teacher engages in coding. Teachers communicate expectations, assumptions, and prescriptions into every aspect of our teaching. Ethical teachers want to create “codes” that include the multiple diversities of our students. However, when students live diversities estranged from our codes, they are forced to code-switch and this can lead to silencing or “ghosting” the best and most unique sides of our students. After learning terminology and analyzing ethical challenges associated with code-switching, each participant will leave the workshop with tangible, discipline-specific, teaching strategies to avoid “ghosting” their students in the future. This workshop is for faculty to create awareness of how to make our classrooms more effective and inclusive, but a different form of this workshop can also be offered to students.