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City Club of Eugene: Implicit Bias: In The Schools, In The Courts, In Society

Program Date: Jan. 8, 2021

Air Date: Jan. 11, 2021

From the City Club of Eugene:

The recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many other unarmed African Americans have heightened awareness of systemic racism and its foundation, implicit bias.

Implicit biases are unconscious attitudes and stereotypes that can manifest in criminal justice systems, workplaces, school settings, and healthcare systems. Implicit biases are based on many factors, including race, gender, and sexuality. We can deal with–and hopefully reverse–implicit biases only when we see how they impact thoughts and decisions. Removing these biases is a challenge, especially because we often don’t even know they exist, but research reveals potential interventions.

In this program you will hear from three highly qualified and experienced individuals who fight the impacts of implicit bias on a daily basis. Professor Girvan will discuss the broad implications of implicit bias in society, while Justice Nelson will describe the impact of implicit bias in the justice system. Professor Nese will show how implicit bias affects kids in school. All three speakers will share ideas about how to reduce the effects of this toxic force.  



Erik Girvan is an academic expert in conflict and dispute resolution, civil litigation, and criminal law. At the University of Oregon, he is an associate professor of law and the faculty co-director of the Conflict and Dispute Resolution Program. His research investigates how stereotypes, attitudes, and other biases might impact decisions in the legal system. He empirically tests practical ways to reduce or eliminate implicit biases by working with a diverse variety of legal and other professionals. He has led trainings on this issue at universities, police departments, and many other organizations around Oregon. Before joining Oregon Law’s faculty, he litigated over 100 complex commercial cases in various federal and state jurisdictions across the country. He is the Co-Director of the Conflict and Dispute Resolution Program and earned a JD at Harvard Law School and a PhD in Psychology at the University of Minnesota.

Justice Adrienne Nelson was appointed to the Oregon Supreme Court on January 2, 2018. She is the first Black person to sit on the state’s highest court and on any appellate state court. In the following November, voters chose to continue her in that role and she became the first Black woman elected statewide in Oregon. In 2006, she was appointed as a trial judge on the Multnomah County Circuit Court in Portland, Oregon, becoming the second Black female judge in the state of Oregon. She is currently the Chair of the Oregon Supreme Court Council on Inclusion and Fairness, the American Bar Association (ABA) Diversity and Inclusion Center, and the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council. In the community, she sits on the Oregon Historical Society Board of Trustees, the Literary Arts Board of Directors, the Reed College Board of Trustees and the Oregon Community Foundation Portland Leadership Council where she chairs the Connection to the Black Communities committee. She also sits on the Girl Scouts Beyond the Bars (GSBB) Advisory Board of which she formerly chaired. Justice Nelson is a sought-after speaker on a variety of topics including diversity, inclusion, equity, community engagement, leadership and professional development. She earned a BA at the University of Arkansas and a law degree at the University of Texas School of Law.

Rhonda Nese, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Special Education and Clinical Sciences at the University of Oregon College of Education. Dr. Nese currently serves as the Principal Investigator in a project refining and testing an intervention to reduce exclusionary discipline practices, improve student behavior and student-teacher relationships, and increase instructional time for students in secondary settings. She is also Co-Principal Investigator on three additional projects to identify factors that predict implementation and sustainability of evidence-based practices, to develop technology to improve online learning for educators, and to develop and validate an automated scoring system for oral reading fluency. Dr. Nese also provides technical assistance to state, district, and school level teams across the nation on preventative practices, including addressing implicit bias in school discipline, effective classroom behavior management strategies, bullying prevention, and alternatives to exclusionary discipline practices. Dr. Nese earned a BA in psychology at the University of Maryland, an MEd at Howard University in school psychology, and a PhD at UO in school psychology.



Love Cross joined KLCC in 2017. She began her public radio career as a graduate student, serving as Morning Edition Host for Boise State Public Radio in the late 1990s. She earned her undergraduate degree in Rhetoric and Communication from University of California at Davis, and her Master’s Degree from Boise State University. In addition to her work in public radio, Love teaches college-level courses in Communication and Public Speaking.