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SIS Hosts 16th Annual IMI Conference on Intercultural Relations

By Juliana Fernandes

Hisham Aidi, a lecturer at Columbia University and the author of Rebel Music: Race, Empire and the New Muslim Youth Culture speaks at the IMI Conference 2015.

The 16th Annual Intercultural Management Institute (IMI) Conference on Intercultural Relations was held at the School of International Service on March 12 and 13. Over 200 intercultural relations professionals in various sectors, including education, business, and diplomacy, came together to share their research and skills with colleagues in the field.

The two-day conference featured thirty-eight sessions across five subject areas -- international education, exchanges and training, diversity and inclusion, diplomacy, business, and cross-cutting topics in intercultural relations. Attendees learned experimental techniques, shared ideas, and discussed cutting-edge training methods for intercultural relations.

The conference began with a speech from Professor Gary Weaver, IMI’s founder, executive director, and a leading intercultural relations expert.

Conference participants also heard two engaging and informative keynote addresses from Lori George Billingsley, the Vice President of Community Relations for Coca-Cola North America, and Hisham Aidi, a lecturer at Columbia University and the author of Rebel Music: Race, Empire and the New Muslim Youth Culture.

The keynote address on Thursday by Billingsley informed participants about the importance of diversity and inclusion in media campaigns, as well as the role that the Coca-Cola Company and brand has had in intercultural relations.

On the final day of the conference, Aidi discussed the history of Islam in music. In particular, Aidi underscored music’s effects on Muslim youth and hip-hop culture, the subject of his book.

The 2015 conference equipped participants with a toolkit of resources to apply to their own work and provided a platform for intellectual conversations about intercultural relations.

For participant Nicolle Merrill, a relationship manager from the Yale School of Management, the conference offered an interactive and valuable experience. “The conference was packed with perspective and practical tools that will be incredibly useful in my work. I have been in the field for ten years and I can’t recommend [this conference] enough to my network. Excellent content,” Merrill said.

IMI is active throughout the year, providing customized training workshops for effective communication, negotiation, and leadership across cultures.

To learn more about IMI and future workshops, follow IMI on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn and visit its website at