Honors Program Adapts and Thrives in Virtual Environment

Professor Smithey’s and Prof. Paddon Rhoads’ honors seminars were covered in this story by Ryan Dougherty about the honors program during the pandemic.

“Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies and Sociology Lee Smithey invited six authors to join his honors seminar on nonviolent civil resistance. Students heard the inside story from the writers whose books they were reading.“The results were pretty special,” says Smithey, whose hybrid seminar was held both online and, on warmer days, on the lawn outside Trotter Hall. “And the authors were each impressed with their conversation with the students and the level at which our students engaged the literature.”

Read more…

Assistant Professor of Political Science Emily Paddon Rhoads’s honors seminar had a hybrid format, with six students studying in person and three online.

Philosopher Krista Thomason Awarded National Humanities Center Fellowship

Krista Thomason

Associate Professor of Philosophy Krista Thomason was recently recognized as a leading scholar by the National Humanities Center (NHC) with a 2021 residential fellowship to continue work on her second book project, Worms in the Garden: Bad Feelings in a Good Life.

The residential fellowship will allow Thomason to spend her sabbatical year at the NHC working alongside other fellows, which Thomason describes as “every scholar’s dream.” Worms in the Garden: Bad Feelings in a Good Life contemplates how one can live a good life without having to get rid of negative emotion.

“I teach moral philosophy regularly, and in that class, we use classic works in philosophy to help us think through the moral questions that we face in our everyday lives,” Thomason says of the book. “When I was thinking about how to approach this book, it hit me that I should use the same strategy that I use in the classroom. So, I draw on work from the history of philosophy to help answer the question, how do we live well with our bad feelings?”

Thomason was selected for the 35-person cohort from more than 600 applications. “When the VP of scholarly programs called me to tell me I’d been selected, he made sure to tell me that the committee thought my project was excellent philosophical scholarship with a wide appeal,” says Thomason, “which is a huge compliment.” 

Robert D. Newman, president and director of the NHC, said in a statement: “We are proud to support the work of these exceptional scholars. They were selected from an extremely competitive group of applicants, and their work covers a wide gamut of fascinating topics that promises to shape thinking in their fields for years to come. I look forward to welcoming them to the center in the fall.”

The in-residence fellowship will take Thomason off the Swarthmore campus, but she doesn’t anticipate that much change in the environment. 

“Being in a liberal arts college environment means you’re able to communicate what is significant or interesting about your work to people who don’t necessarily think like you do. It also means that you know how to learn from colleagues in different fields and that you value different scholarly approaches,” she says. “I’ll be with top-notch humanities scholars from a wide range of disciplines, so it’s not that different from my normal life at Swarthmore.”

The NHC is the only independent institute dedicated exclusively to advanced study in all areas of the humanities. Through its residential fellowship program, education programs, and public engagement, the NHC promotes understanding of the humanities and advocates for their foundational role in a democratic society.

[This blog post was reposted from the Swarthmore News and Event page and was written by Nora Kelly.]

https://www.swarthmore.edu/news-events/philosopher-krista-thomason-awarded-national-humanities-center-fellowship

Ramiro Hernandez ’23 Named Pulitzer Center Reporting Fellow

Ramiro Hernandez ’23 has always had a knack for writing.

“I remember being in fourth grade, and we had to take this state exam,” says Hernandez, of Hidalgo, Texas. “We had to write essays for it and whatnot. They graded us from 1 to 4, with 4 being the best. I remember I was the only kid in my class who got a 4. It was a big deal at the time.”

A decade later, Hernandez has been selected for the Pulitzer Center Reporting Fellowship, a program that provides funding, mentorship, and support for student journalists to report on global issues that are rarely covered in the national media. The fellowship is made possible by a three-year partnership between Swarthmore and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Hernandez’s writing is one of the things that set him apart for the fellowship.

“We were all moved by Ramiro’s writing samples,” says Katie Price, associate director of the Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility and a member of the selection committee. “He writes in a way that stays with you; it is haunting and beautiful.”

Anya Slepyan ’22, the recipient of last year’s fellowship and a member of this year’s selection committee, agreed. “He was a really strong writer throughout his application,” she says. “He used very powerful language.”

This achievement should come as no surprise to a student like Hernandez, a QuestBridge Scholar, Richard Rubin Scholar, and 2020 recipient of Swarthmore’s Center for Innovation and Leadership summer grant. Already holding postsecondary degrees in medical Spanish and interdisciplinary studies, he is now an honors student with a special major in peace & conflict studies, educational studies, and medical anthropology.

“We put forward multiple outstanding candidates, and we’re thrilled that the Pulitzer Center has chosen to recognize Ramiro Hernandez,” says Ben Berger, executive director of the Lang Center. “His brilliance and passion will be put to good use,”

This summer, Hernandez will be reporting from his hometown of Hidalgo, which is located just five minutes away from the Mexican border. Under the mentorship of Pulitzer Center grantee journalists and staff, he will cover the stories of immigrant veterans in the U.S. who are either undocumented or have troubles with immigration.

These veterans “serve in the armed forces with the promise of citizenship, either for themselves or for their loved ones,” Hernandez says. “And then after their contract ends, they’re either deported or the promise that they were given is not fulfilled.”

The topic is deeply personal for Hernandez.

“Many of the people I care about, including many friends and loved ones, experience issues with immigration,” Hernandez says. He hopes that his reporting with the Pulitzer Center will help to inform future immigration policy and legislation.

“I want to be able to bring these issues to a national spotlight, and the Pulitzer Center has a big platform,” says Hernandez, whose final project will be featured on the Pulitzer Center website and, with the help of the center, pitched to other news outlets.

“In making the final selection, we agreed that Ramiro not only had the facility to tell the story well, but also that he had an important story to tell,” says Price. “While we hear news about immigration and military operations on an almost-daily basis, Ramiro’s project will address these topics in a way that is unique, underreported, and intersectional.”

This story originally appeared in Swarthmore News & Events. It was written by Madeleine Palden ’22.

Religion, Race, and Environmental Activism after Standing Rock

All are invited to an event on Tuesday (April 20) at 7:00 p.m.: “Religion, Race, and Environmental Activism after Standing Rock” at Montclair State University. Professor Smithey will participate in the panel that follows a screening of Half-Mile, Upwind, On Foot.

Some of you will remember a similar film screening at Swarthmore College in 2019.

All are welcome, and you can register to attend online (or in person) using this link

Professors Will Gardner and Denise Crossan Teach Class on Environment, Cultural Memory, and Social Change in Japan

“4.11 原発反対デモin高円寺 Anti nuclear power protests in Kouenji” by SandoCap is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

This semester, professors Gardner and Crossan have been teaching a new course offering that lies at the intersection of Peace and Conflict Studies, Environmental Science, and Japanese history. From nuclear fallouts to natural disasters and the respective social movements they spawned, the class provides a comprehensive overview of the past and present traumas grappled with in Japanese society as well as avenues towards social change. Students will collaborate virtually with local community partners and peace activists on projects related to the studied topics. For students interested in taking this course, it is listed also for the Spring 2023 semester. The complete course description is quoted below:

“This course will explore the history, contemporary situation, and future possibilities regarding the interlinked realms of the environment, historical trauma, and social movements in Japan. Topics will include the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings and the subsequent peace and anti-nuclear movements, the environmental movement in Japan, and the “triple disaster” earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear power plant disaster in Fukushima and Northeastern Japan. We will also discuss how environmental issues intersect with other current social issues such as rural depopulation, an aging population, and gender and economic inequality, and study a variety of contemporary approaches to addressing these issues. Under the guidance of Lang Professor for Social Change Denise Crossan, we will study the theory and practice of social entrepreneurship as a vehicle for social change and explore applications of this model in Japan. In addition, throughout the semester we will engage with community partners in Japan, particularly in the Hiroshima area, through online exchanges and collaborative projects related to contemporary environmental and peace activism.”

“Abolishing the Death Penalty with Sister Helen Prejean: Justice, Dignity and Faith”

Sister Helen Prejean Flyer.png

All are welcome this Wednesday, 2/24, 7-8:30 pm EST for
“Abolishing the Death Penalty with Sister Helen Prejean: Justice, Dignity and Faith” a talk and Q&A with one of the country’s leading advocates against capital punishment. Immediately afterwards you can join a conversation with Swarthmore students who provide academic tutoring to incarcerated youth through the Petey Greene Program, event co-sponsors.

Use this Zoom info for both events:

Meeting ID: 832 2476 7883
Password: K16de6

You can stream Dead Man Walking, a film about the work of Sister Helen, through Tripod with this link.


This event is sponsored by the Interfaith Center, the Petey Greene Program, the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Peace and Conflict Studies and the Urban Inequalities & Incarceration Program at the Lang Center.

The International Peace Research Association Conference is Free for all Students to Attend this year

The 28th Biennial conference of the International Peace Research Association (IPRA) is being held January 11-15 in a hybrid format (online and in Nairobi, Kenya), and registration has been made completely free for all undergraduate and graduate students this year. If you would like to register, simply fill out the form below and email it to internationalpeaceresearch.sg@gmail.com.

Prof. Sa’ed Atshan named one of 40 Under 40 by the Arab America Foundation

On October 22, Professor Sa’ed Atshan, Assistant Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies at Swarthmore College, became an awardee of the Arab America Foundation’s 40 Under 40 initiative, meant to highlight the accomplishments of young Arab Americans across the country. The publication remarks, “each of the awardees has forged pathways in their profession and community. They have done stellar work to promote their Arab heritage and bring positive changes to those around them.”

The Foundation highlights both Atshan’s involvement in Palestinian, Quaker, and LGBT human rights activist organizations as well as his two recently published books, Queer Palestine and the Empire of Critique (2020, Stanford University Press) and The Moral Triangle: Germans, Israelis, Palestinians (2020, Duke University Press). Queer Palestine tracks the rise and transnational expansion of the LGBTQ movement in Palestine and argues centrally for the linkage between struggles for Palestinian freedom and the struggle against homophobia.  The Moral Triangle draws on ethnographic fieldwork in Berlin within its three titular communities to explore how German public policy and discourse is shaped by narratives of moral responsibility, the Holocaust, the Israel/Palestine conflict, and Germany’s recent welcoming of Middle Eastern refugees. Additionally, Atshan has self-designed two courses focusing on the Middle East at Swarthmore College, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict and Crisis Resolution in the Middle East, and has taught many more.  Read his full accolade below.

“Sa’ed Atshan is based in Pennsylvania and originally from Palestine. He is a professor of peace and conflict studies at Swarthmore College, having previously served as a postdoctoral fellow in international studies at Brown University, and receiving his Ph.D. in anthropology and Middle Eastern studies from Harvard University. Mr. Atshan has published two books: Queer Palestine and the Empire of Critique (2020, Stanford University Press) and The Moral Triangle: Germans, Israelis, Palestinians (2020, Duke University Press). Mr. Atshan has been recognized with numerous major grants and fellowships, and he has worked for a wide range of organizations, with a focus on public service. He has volunteered on the boards of major organizations and has also been significantly involved in the leadership of Palestinian, Quaker, and LGBTQ human rights activist groups. Much of his work with Arab-American communities has been devoted to mentoring and supporting youth with education and civic engagement initiatives.”

Imagining Queer Liberation

Imagine Queer Liberation Lecture Series

Please join us for three lectures sponsored by Peace and Conflict Studies and co-sponsored by the Sager Fund, Arabic, Asian Studies, Educational Studies, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Islamic Studies, Political Science, Sociology and Anthropology, the Intercultural Center, the Office of Inclusive Excellence, and the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility.

All lectures at 4:30p.m. in (Old) Intercultural Center Big Room

Copy of Imagining Queer Liberation