WCSU to bring community together at two-day conference
Area leaders, politicians, educators will focus on compassion and healing

DANBURY, CONN. — On Friday and Saturday, April 12 and 13, 2013, Western Connecticut State University will hold a two-day symposium “Compassion and Creativity in the Community.” The event will focus on how community leaders and organizations, including those in education, health, government, spiritual and business, can develop an understanding of people’s need for compassion and kindness in today’s busy world.

The conference will be open to the public and will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both days at the Portuguese Cultural Center, 65 Sandpit Road in Danbury. On-site registration will begin at 8 a.m. on both days. Pre-registration will be available at the www.wcsu.edu prior to the event.

Since one of the catalysts for such a community discussion is the tragic school shooting that took place in Sandy Hook, Newtown, on Dec. 14, the conference will also discuss the role of community in healing in the wake of tragedy.

Former Connecticut State’s Attorney, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal will be the keynote speaker on April 12. Dr. Bernie Siegel — physician, speaker and author of many books on holistic healing — will be the keynote speaker on April 13. Siegel’s belief is that “we are here to contribute love to the planet – each of us in our own way.”

WCSU Professor of Political Science Dr. Christopher Kukk, who is helping to organize the conference, said that reaching out to members of governmental, educational, business, health and spiritual communities is a way to promote healing and strengthen the community.

The symposium will look at how being compassionate will aid the healing process that people in this area and beyond need in order to tackle today’s issues in a healthy, positive manner.

“In other words, how can we turn something destructive into something constructive?” Kukk posed, adding that compassion means showing respect for the dignity of every individual.

Western is one of two universities in the country recognized by Compassion Action Network as a compassionate university. This is WCSU’s second compassion conference. Kukk says the activities and efforts of the WCSU Compassion and Creativity Club stem from its being a university of compassion. The club is a grassroots effort in that “we were started from the ground up — we started with students.”

Some of the issues that will be raised at the conference include how to handle major issues with a sense of compassion — being mindful that these issues involve people and are not just about politics and business.

“We want people to think differently about compassion and hope that compassion will eventually extend to matters of homelessness, immigration policy, gun control, health, mental health and public safety,” Kukk said.

The two keynote speakers will address the conference, followed by panel discussions comprised of national and local leaders, including Danbury’s mayor, Mark Boughton, and Newtown’s first selectwoman, Pat Llodra. The conference will culminate with an interactive panel discussion with the community audience and will focus on three main questions: How can we turn something destructive into something constructive? How can we shift from “me” to “we”? and How does compassion affect the dynamics of a community?

“We may live and work in one community, but we are part of a whole,” Kukk said.

For more information, contact the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.

 

Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities

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