2017 Professional Development & Enrichment Conference

Jan. 9–11, 2017

Keynote Address

From Snow White to Zootopia: A Look at Race, Institutions, and Culture

Shakti Butler, Ph.D.

more about Shakti Butler

For more than 70 years, through its production of hundreds of films, the Walt Disney Company has reinforced negative ideologies, beliefs, and practices related to race, gender, and class that form an essential element of American culture. Disney’s global commercial success has resulted in broad exportation of this culture of inequity.  

In 2015 Shakti Butler, Ph.D., a social justice filmmaker, educator, and speaker, and founder of World Trust Educational Services, was asked to consult on the making of the Walt Disney movie Zootopia to help the filmmakers avoid the trap of stereotyping and bias. Zootopia was an overwhelming success! It is, in fact, Disney's second-highest grossing film of all time, making well over a billion dollars.

In her presentation Butler will share a personal narrative that elucidates the impact of the American cultural narrative on race, and informs her commitment as a mixed-race African-American woman to her work, which is connected to transformative learning and change. Hers is a story that is embedded in U.S. history, culture, and identity, one that motivates her work to end inequity in the world.  

Writer and co-director of Disney's Zootopia, Jared Bush, notes of his time with Butler:

What we learned from Dr. Shakti Butler and World Trust’s film, Cracking the Codes, had a profound effect on the entire storytelling team behind Zootopia. She led us in an honest and authentic conversation that opened our eyes to the potential of what our film could say. It not only changed, but also forever deepened, the way we approached bias and stereotype. I will be forever grateful to Dr. Butler and her invaluable voice in Zootopia

Watch Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity.

Helpful tool: racialequitytools.org 

Conference Program

Stay tuned! Conference schedule coming soon!