University Communications

SCSU celebrates opening of 'The Bias Inside Us'

St. Cloud State University celebrated the opening of "The Bias Inside Us" in the Atwood Memorial Center Gallery Aug. 22.

“The Bias Inside Us” is a community engagement project from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES) that raises awareness about the social science and psychology of implicit bias, the impact of this bias and what people can do about it. “The Bias Inside Us” features a traveling exhibition that serves as the centerpiece for local programs and activities. It is on display through Sept. 19. 

Multicultural Resource Center Director Iyekiyapiwin Darlene St. Clair welcomed attendees to the opening reception program with a message in Dakota and English. 

She encouraged everyone to invite others to see the exhibit. She noted that the exhibit reminds visitors to both look at what is emphasized and what is minimized and recognized that the exhibit and the university are located on indigenous lands. 

Director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Education and Exhibit Organizer Dan Wildeson recognized exhibit sponsors and supporters and everyone at the campus who helped bring the exhibit to St. Cloud State. 

"I want to say what an honor it is to host a Smithsonian Institution exhibit – especially this one," Wildeson said. 

Guest Project Manager Laura Zelle told the history of the exhibit, which began as an idea at the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas and has garnered support from across the state. It has grown to become a Smithsonian Instruction Traveling Exhibition that will be seen and experienced by people across the country. 

President Robbyn Wacker gave the keynote address. 

"We are so proud to be hosting this innovative project for engaging our community in timely discussions about the roots and continuing revelations of the biases and injustices that keep the citizens in our community, in our nation and in our world from achieving their full human potential. We have been reminded through tragedy and turmoil in recent months that we have a great responsibility to foster conversations, facilitate change and come to grips with historic inequities that have gone on for centuries. 

"We have witnessed stunning examples of how deeply imbedded biases and bigotry continue to perpetuate fear and injustice. ... with this exhibition we have come together and strengthened our resources to give everyone a chance to question and heal in an atmosphere of acceptance and understanding, care and concern."

In his remarks The Otto Bremer Trust Co-CEO and Trustee Brian Lipschultz spoke about the importance of the exhibit. 

"'The Bias Inside Us' is a creative approach," Lipschultz said. "It makes us look at biases we may not be aware of in ourselves."

CentraCare Health Chief Administrative Officer and Senior Vice President Joe Kalkman said that prejudice is learned and can be unlearned.

"This exhibit is a wonderful example of how we are learning and healing," he said. "I am eager for students to see it."

Through compelling images, hands-on interactive's and powerful testimonials and videos, “The Bias Inside Us” exhibition unpacks and demystifies the concept of bias. The exhibition features six sections: Introduction, The Science of Bias, Bias in Real Life, Serious Consequences—Bias is All Around Us, #RetrainYourBrain and Personal Reflection.

 “The Bias Inside Us” draws from the scientific research and educational work by psychologists Mahzarin R. Banaji of Harvard University and Anthony G. Greenwald, professor emeritus at the University of Washington. They defined the term “implicit bias” through their work on unconscious and conscious mental processes. Their book Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People (Delacorte Press, 2013) explores the biases people carry based on their exposure to cultural attitudes on areas such as gender, race, social class and disability status.

Major support for “The Bias Inside Us” is provided by the Otto Bremer Trust. Additional support provided by Acton Family Giving, Anonymous donors, The Beverly Foundation, Steve and Sheri Lear, Target, the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation Fund of the Minneapolis Foundation, Thomson Reuters, Allianz of America, Valerie E. and William A. Anders, Atlanta Gas Light Foundation, Julie and David Burton, the Dreier Family, Lennart Ehn and Ginger Lew, Expedia, Trevor and Melissa Fetter, the Roger S. Firestone Foundation, Brenda J. Gaines, Myra Hart and Kent Hewitt, Charlie and Nancy Hogan, Judy and Bob Huret, Dr. Christine C. Jenkins and Mr. Pierre A. France, KNOCK, inc., Sarah Lawer and Frank Guanco, Leaders Forum, Kathleen Mason, Elyse Rabinowitz and Jim Porter, Dr. Philip S. and Alice Hoolihan Randall, Gloria del C. Rodriguez, the Family of Leona Roen, and Naoma Tate.

It is based on an original concept developed by Tolerance in Motion: Steve Lear, Laura Zelle, and Elyse Rabinowitz, founders; Ellen Glatstein, Laura Lipshutz, Alice Randall, Joanne Jones-Rizzi, and Susan Shapiro, directors; Don Shelby, founding advisor; and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, Steve Hunegs, executive director.

SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for more than 65 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science, and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play.  For exhibition description and tour schedules, visit sites.si.edu.