Conference Details

WHEN:December 5-7, 2024
WHERE:Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC
Jesmyn Ward,
Novelist and Professor of English and Humanities at Tulane University
PRESENTED BY: The Educating Character Initiative, on behalf of the Program for Leadership and Character at Wake Forest University

LEARN MORE: Overview |Keynote Speaker |Sponsors and Organizers

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educating Character Across Differences: Cultivating Communities of Character in the University

Conference Overview

We hope you will join us December 5-7 for Educating Character Across Differences: Cultivating Communities of Character in the University, an interdisciplinary conference hosted by the Educating Character Initiative (ECI) on behalf of the Program for Leadership and Character at Wake Forest University. Educating Character Across Differences is an international, interdisciplinary conference that aims to explore opportunities for cultivating communities of character among university faculty, staff, and students across a variety of differences. We hope to consider both how to educate character across differences and what a focus on character and character education may contribute to efforts to recognize, respect, and bridge deep differences and foster meaningful and inclusive community. We intend “differences” broadly, including but not limited to differences related to ability, discipline, educational background, gender and sexuality, ideological viewpoint, moral and religious tradition, political commitment, race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and type of institution (public or private, secular or religious, 2- or 4-year, etc.).

Participants will consider how a focus on character education may contribute to:

Keynote Speaker

jesmyn ward photo
Jesmyn Ward (Photo: Beowulf Sheehan)

In partnership with Face to Face Speaker Forum, the Program for Leadership and Character will welcome Jesmyn Ward to the stage as the keynote speaker for the conference – Educating Character Across Differences: Cultivating Communities of Character in the University. Ward is an American novelist as well as Professor of English and Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Humanities at Tulane University, where she teaches creative writing. She is a MacArthur Genius Grant recipient and the first woman and the first person of color to win two National Book Awards for Fiction. In 2016, she won the Strauss Living award, given every five years by the American Academy of Arts & Letters for literary excellence. In 2018, she was recognized among Time‘s 100 Most Influential People, and she is the winner of the 2022 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction.

This moderated discussion will take place December 5 at 6 p.m. inside Wait Chapel at Wake Forest University. This event will be free and open to the public. No tickets are required, and you do not need to register for the conference to attend.


This conference and keynote are made possible through the generous support of Lilly Endowment Inc., the Kern Family Foundation, the Face to Face Speaker Forum, and Wake Forest University.

About the Organizers

The Program for Leadership and Character at Wake Forest University aims to inspire, educate, and empower leaders of character to serve humanity. Through innovative teaching, creative programming, and cutting-edge research, the Program seeks to transform the lives of students, foster an inclusive culture of leadership and character at Wake Forest, and catalyze a broader public conversation that places character at the center of leadership.

The Educating Character Initiative is an external-facing project of the Program for Leadership and Character designed to support work cultivating character in higher education institutions. The Educating Character Initiative aims to equip a wide range of public and private institutions of higher education—including but not limited to major research universities, liberal arts colleges, military academies, community colleges, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, religiously affiliated colleges, single-gender colleges, and tribal colleges—with the resources, funding, and support needed to integrate character education into their distinctive institutional contexts, curricula, and cultures. The broader aspiration is to foster a robust community that supports the education of character within institutions of higher education. For more information on the Educating Character Initiative, visit our website and register for the ECI Community.