All posts by Lee Smithey

Social Innovation Lab opens at Lang Center, aims to branch out (Phoenix)

Congratulations to Prof. Denise Crossan and her students!


 

From The Phoenix
3 March 2018
By Abby Young

Social Innovation Lab opens at Lang Center, aims to branch out

In January 2017, the Social Innovation Lab at the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility was created by visiting Lang Center professor Denise Crossan. Its purpose is to extend the Lang Center’s mission to promote engaged scholarship at Swarthmore. Currently, it is being used by groups from Chester and SwatTank as well as some Swarthmore student groups. One of the ways the lab is teaching these concepts is through Design Thinking trainings, which are courses about how to create social projects relating to a particular field of interest. Recently, Crossan and fellows have been promoting the lab as a space for students to visit.

“The Social Innovation Lab creates a space where the campus community can come to apply their deep and thoughtful theoretical knowledge into active practice focused on creating positive social impact.  Learning and practicing problem solving skills within the Social Innovation Lab, such as Design Thinking, allows students to apply their Swarthmore education to complex real-world problems and better equips them for experiences post-graduation,” Crossan said.

Crossan renovated an office space and small library into a maker’s space filled with magnetic whiteboards, markers, crafting supplies, and a bin of cardboard. According to her, the space is designed for the creation of prototypes. Some of the prototypes on display in the lab are colorful, cardboard versions of imagined apps from Crossan’s social entrepreneurship class.

According to Michelle Ma ’20, a University Innovation Fellow who works with the Social Innovation Lab, the space is a natural extension of the classroom. This is an expansion of the Lang Center’s push for engaged scholarship, which is applying classroom learning to solve social issues in the world.

“We really want to push this idea of integrating your studies, what you care about, and making it more,” Ma said.

University Innovation Fellow Mariam Bahmane ’19 said that getting students to come to the lab is a current challenge they are facing. She said that even though Swat students are busy, many have dreams and projects, and the lab wants to create incentives for student attendance to help students find a balance between their studies and ideas for innovation.

“We [are working] to develop a whole spirit of the Social Innovation Lab and programs to get students into the culture of getting out of the library and their books and doing awesome things that they know and they learn about,” Bahmane said.

The maker’s space is still undergoing changes. According to Ma, some of these changes will include decorating the rooms, making the room more colorful, and adding to the currently plain walls. Crossan also said that the windows will have covers that are whiteboards.

“A lot of our efforts right now are focused on designing the space,” Ma said. “A lot of our goals are internal.”

Another goal that Ma emphasized was increased awareness and usage of the space, especially for students.

“We want more people to come in general. I stress this idea to just come and study… just experience the space,” she said.

However, the Social Innovation Lab is not just for individual students. University innovation fellow Natasha Markov-Riss ’20 said the maker’s space is open to any Swarthmore student.

“Individual students and various clubs also frequently inhabit the space — it is open to all. Even if you aren’t currently working on a project, the SIL provides a fantastic study environment,” she wrote.

Crossan said that Swarthmore faculty, staff, and the greater Swarthmore community are also free to use this space, and some groups from Chester are looking to collaborate with the Social Innovation Lab. SwatTank competitors are also encouraged to use the space.

Ma feels that the maker’s space can help faculty members innovate their lesson plans to make them more engaging for students and more applicable to what they care about. She stressed that the fellows at the Social Innovation Lab are eager for people on campus to use the new space that has been created and the supplies that they provide.

“We can’t work towards any necessary goal without people behind it,” she said.

The strategic plan for the first year of function outlines the goals of the Social Innovation Lab as education, experience, execution, and evaluation.

Crossan said that she wants to further educate students about the concepts of  social innovation and entrepreneurship, and creative ways to apply them. One way that the Social Innovation Lab educates is Design Thinking Training, which are courses that teach potential innovators how to apply these abstract concepts. According to Markov-Riss, in the coming weeks, the Social Innovation Lab is running a Design Thinking session for the student group Kinetics.

“We tend to use Design Thinking as an underpinning methodology for students to really deeply understand what … community needs we have,” said Crossan.

Ma said that the Social Innovation Lab wants to help students understand concepts that may be difficult to define or apply to real life.

“We hear a lot about innovation, social change, and entrepreneurship and engaged scholarship but a lot of these terms are abstract. And the SIL wants to be a space where people can put their ideas to action,” Ma said.

According to Crossan, experience is built from engaged scholarship, which is the primary reason that she introduced this space in the Lang Center.

“The Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility’s mission is to facilitate engaged scholarship on campus. That means engaging the community, the curriculum, and the campus, collectively,” she said.

This includes collaboration with other separate spaces on campus such as the new Swarthmore MakerSpace overseen by ITS in Beardsley Hall and the college’s libraries. Crossan said that the goal is to create a network of similar spaces throughout campus.

According to Crossan, the execution component of the Social Innovation Lab’s goals is that the maker’s space can be a place to incubate projects.

“One of the goals of the Social Innovation Lab is to create a space where Swarthmore Social Innovators (students, faculty, staff and community) can bring their projects to ‘live’ — that is, find a home, from a few weeks to months, where they can incubate their idea, share experiences with like-minded individuals, and receive dedicated support,” Crossan said.

The goal of evaluation is for students to reflect on their work.

“One of the big intentions for me is how do we take all that we’ve learned from what we do and turn it back into our knowledge,” said Crossan.

The goals of the Social Innovation Lab are part of its goal to help students turn their specialties, regardless of what they are, into social projects. Ma said that as a computer science major, she is developing the Social Innovation Lab’s website. According to Brahmane, her friend is trying to start a business that combines her love of baking and interest in biochemistry.

“With every area of study, there’s some application of your field that you find meaningful … We want to invite more people from all diverse backgrounds of life, whether it be a diverse identity or diverse major,” said Ma.

Despite the fact that the Social Innovation Lab is new, the University Innovation Fellows are positive about its future in cultivating a space for people to participate in engaged scholarship and social entrepreneurship.

“In the coming years, the SIL will become a well-used resource for students — I hope that the SIL is able to connect all of the innovators at Swat and support them as they build projects that reach beyond our campus,” Markov-Riss wrote.

“I see it as the birthplace of the next big entrepreneurs, innovators of the world,” said Brahame. “It would be a great starting spot for brilliance and sustainable big ideas.”

 

War on Humanity: Healthcare under Attack in the Syrian Conflict

The Arabic Section of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, the Islamic Studies Program, the Peace and Conflict Studies Program, and the the Health & Societies Program at the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility are pleased to present:

A lecture by Dr. Hani Mowafi, Yale University
War on Humanity: Healthcare under Attack in the Syrian Conflict

Tuesday, March 6, 2018
Scheuer Room at 7:00 p.m.

Alaa Al-Faqir_A damaged hospital in the town of Tel al-Shehab in Deraa, Syria July 23, 2015The Syrian war, now in its 7th year, has been one of the most brutal modern conflicts in the world. With estimates of over half a million deaths since the war’s inception and roughly 13 million displaced the conflict’s effects for Syria and the world will be long lasting. Combatants on all sides but primarily those allied with the Syrian government have used indiscriminate military force against civilian populations. In addition, the deliberate targeting of medical facilities and personnel, in flagrant violation of international law and global norms, has created a new dimension of brutality – one that is being emulated in other conflicts around the world. These violations in the way war is waged have occurred largely with impunity and have grave consequences for the future impact of armed conflict on civilian populations. Dr. Mowafi will discuss some of the unique elements of the Syrian conflict and its impact on civilian populations as well as highlight efforts to combat these developments on both the international and individual level.

Dr_Hani_Mowafi_medDr. Mowafi is an Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine and Chief of the Section of Global Health and International Emergency Medicine at Yale University. His interests are in developing the science and practice of emergency care with emphasis on low- and middle-income countries where the burden of emergency conditions is greatest and is combined with an unmet need for emergency services.  Dr. Mowafi’s current research includes evaluation of health data from a network of hospitals operating inside war-affected Syria and modeling household income effects of road traffic injury in rural Uganda.  He has 15 years of experience in consulting and research in emergency medicine and global public health.

For further information about this event, please contact Khaled Al-Masri: kalmasr1 *at* swarthmore.edu

Philadelphia Nonprofit and Public Service Career Fair

From our friends in Career Services:

Philadelphia Nonprofit and Public Service Career Fair

Date: Friday, March 2, 2018; 1-4pm
Location: Schwartz Fitness and Athletic Center, Bryn Mawr College

The annual Philadelphia Nonprofit and Public Service Career Fair provides a forum for students to learn about a variety of organizations in the nonprofit and public service sectors. Connect with hiring representatives to learn about careers, internships, fellowships, and full-time opportunities.

Swarthmore students are encouraged to attend the workshop on Wed. 2/28 @12:30 in Parrish 159 to help prepare for and make the most of the fair.

This fair is open to all TriCo students. View the list of attending employers in Handshake.

A Swarthmore student who attended recently remarked, “The Non Profit Career Fair jumpstarted my career and showed me a sample of what opportunities are out there in my field. The fair…connected me to multiple organizations looking for…employees. I walked out one step closer to the internship I wound up working for that summer as well as with even more ideas for the future.”

Climate Justice and Civil Rights

Please mark your calendar for an exciting event serving as the capstone for Black History Month and the opening for Women’s History Month:

March 2, 2018

Public Lecture
“Climate Justice and Civil Rights”
1:30-2:30pm: Swarthmore Meeting House

Reception and Gathering
3:30-5:00pm: Black Cultural Center

You are invited to a public lecture and conversation with Jacqueline Patterson, the Director of the NAACP’s Environmental and Climate Justice Program.

Jacqueline Patterson NAACP poster

 

 

 

A national leader who bridges civil rights and environmental justice, Patterson heads the NAACP’s initiatives to advance an inclusive, “just transition” to a renewable, green economy. At the heart of this initiative is Patterson’s commitment to ensuring that communities of color and those who are the most impacted by the harmful effects of climate change are at the center of the movement to create an equitable and sustainable future. Patterson’s long history of leadership has led her to serve as coordinator and co-founder of Women of Color United, and to advocate for the intersection of issues relating to women‘s rights, violence against women, HIV&AIDS, racial justice, economic justice, and environmental and climate justice.

This event is co-sponsored by: Environmental Studies, Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, Black Studies, Black Cultural Center, Gender & Sexuality Studies, Diversity, Inclusion & Community Development, Religious Studies, Peace & Conflict Studies, Political Science, Philosophy, Sociology & Anthropology, Office of the President, Health & Societies Initiative, and the Sustainability Office.

Quakers, African Americans and the Myth of Racial Justice

Fit for Freedom, Not for Friendship: Quakers, African Americans and the Myth of Racial Justice

Please join us for a lecture by Vanessa Julye
Monday, February 26th at 4:15 pm
Black Cultural Center

Fit for Freedom

Ms. Julye is a member of Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting and she is Friends General Conference’s Coordinator for the Committee for Nurturing Ministries focusing on  Racism and Youth Ministries.

Sponsored by the Department of Sociology/Anthropology, Department of Religion, Program in Black Studies, Program in Peace and Conflict Studies, Program in Islamic Studies and the Black Cultural Center

Gene Sharp has died and the world has lost a global educator

We join with so many scholars and activists around the world who appreciate the life and work of Gene Sharp, who died on January 28, 2018 at the age of 90. His impact on our work is hard to express. We are so grateful.

Jørgen Johansen has offered a beautiful and informative orbituary that we would like to share here.

Gene Sharp


 

Gene Sharp has died and the world has lost a global educator

by Jørgen Johansen

Just a week after his 90th birthday Gene Sharp passed away.
The journal New Statesman once described Gene Sharp as the “Machiavelli of Nonviolence” and Thomas Weber labelled him “the Clausewitz of Nonviolent Action.” Who was this man and what is his contribution to our understanding of the possibilities to use nonviolent actions in large scale societal conflicts?
Gene Sharp completed his baccalaureate in 1949, just a few scant years after the close of World War II, and quickly turned his attention to the study of nonviolence. After serving nine months in prison for being a conscientious objector to the Korean War, Sharp secretaried for A.J. Muste. He next joined the editorial team of Peace News in London before accepting an invitation from Arne Næss to join him in Oslo with Johan Galtung and others to study the philosophy and practice of Mohandas Gandhi. Throughout this time, Sharp exchanged letters with Albert Einstein, deepening his understanding of and commitment to nonviolence.

While in Oslo, Sharp devoted much time to interviewing teachers who resisted the Quisling government during the Nazi occupation of Norway. Through these interviews, Sharp began to formulate the ideas that would come to constitute his major contribution to nonviolence theory. Moving away from a strictly philosophical, moral, or spiritual nonviolence in the vein of Gandhi, Sharp turned instead to a pragmatic nonviolence. The rest of his life would be spent delineating and analyzing the practical tools of effective nonviolent action.

After his years in Oslo, Sharp pursued his PhD at Oxford University. In 1968 he defended his thesis, The Politics of Nonviolent Action: A study in the control of political power. He continued to develop his thesis work and five years later Porter Sargent published his monumental The Politics of Nonviolent Action, from which “198 Methods of Nonviolent Action” is taken. This book from 1973 has been called “the bible for nonviolent activists” and is still in print nearly 50 years later. Through this and myriad other writings, Sharp contended against a normative approach to nonviolence, where the practice of nonviolence is formulated as a spiritual directive. Nonviolent action need have no moral impetus to be effective; nonviolent actions may be pursued on a purely practical basis on the ground that they are simply the most effective tools available to social and political movements. Indeed, much research by Sharp and others has shown that in the long term nonviolent revolutionary achievements are far more permanent than those fought with kalashnikovs and guerrilla warfare.

Taking this a step further, Sharp maintained that nonviolence could not only resist and overthrow dictatorships or occupations, but could effectively replace all militaries. By thoroughly training the civilian populace in nonviolent strategies and tactics, a nation could make itself ungovernable at will. If such a nation were to be invaded, it could never be subjugated. Those in powerful positions can punish but not force individuals to follow their orders without a certain level of cooperation. As history has shown, people practicing total noncooperation will only serve to drag down their oppressor. The burden of an inoperative state outweighs the benefits of its occupation.

This part of the heritage from Sharp is less known and accepted than his works on nonviolent actions by actors outside the state. Sharp worked hard to convince politicians around the world of his position. Despite some positive feedback from Sweden, Norway and the Baltic states, however, the discussions never moved from the fringe to the central political agenda in any country. The main argument against a national, civilian-based defense might be that such an “army” could also be used against its own state. Does the government trust its own people enough to enable their use of nonviolent actions on a massive scale? Many doubt that they could! We may hope, however, that these ideas came at the wrong time in history and that future discussions will give them the credit they deserve.

The revitalization of research on nonviolent actions after the so-called “Arab Spring” might make such discussions possible.
Though he may not have convinced governments to adopt nonviolent training, it is clear that grassroots political and social movements have taken up Sharp’s writings with a passion. The last fifty years has seen the steady spread of Sharp’s fingerprint in movements around the world. When Gandhi and his movement liberated India from the British colonizers in 1947, their use of nonviolent actions was an exception among revolutionary groups. An important shift in strategy took place in the late seventies and early eighties, however. When the Shah was forced to leave Iran in 1979 and Solidarity organized the workers in Poland in 1980, we saw some exiting examples of movements that based their struggle on nonviolent strategies and tactics. To what degree these movements were familiar with the works of Gene Sharp we do not know. What is clear, however, is that revolutionary movements in the next four decades adopted a broad and ever-broadening range of nonviolent actions and strategies—those same strategies Sharp had been elucidating.

Later, when several of Sharp’s key works were translated into dozens of languages, his ideas indisputibly inspired thousands of suppressed people searching for ways to fight for their freedom, rights, and for democracy. The removal of president Marcos in the Philippines in 1986, the liberation of Eastern Europe and dismantling of the Soviet Union after 1989, the first Intifada in Palestine in 1990-91, the Colored Revolutions following the fall of Milosevic in Serbia in 2000, and the uprising in the MENA region from 2011 onwards all evidenced deep understanding of practical nonviolent revolution. Journalists, activists, academics, and politicians then found a new interest in these fascinating regime changes and their theoretical sources. For each and all of them the works of Gene Sharp now became obligatory—and enlightening—reading.

When Sharp began his study, peace research was a small, odd branch on the academic oak. A hardly visible twig on that branch focused on nonviolence. Seventy years later the field has expanded to be a significant part of several academic disciplines. It has also moved beyond the university campus, reaching suppressed people around the world and turning theoretical ideas into practical tools for social movements. Sharp’s lifelong research and voluminous writings have played a crucial role in this development.

When, at the age of 84, Sharp received the 2012 Right Livelihood Award, he humbly played-down his role as a source of inspiration for the twentieth century’s swell—and the twenty-first century’s tsunami—of unarmed revolutions and social movements. He did note, however, that for the first time in his entire life he found himself interviewed by journalists who at least understood what is was that he was talking about.
His contribution to the field of nonviolent actions will for ever be seen as the equivalent to the first humans landing on the moon. A majority of present researchers in the field of nonviolence have benefited enormously by building on the works and theories published by Gene. Many of us have now lost a friend and many more lost an important source of inspiration.

Swarthmore to Commemorate Legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

From the News and Information Office

Swarthmore to Commemorate Legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Among this year’s events is the annual candlelight vigil at the Black Cultural Center.

The College community will honor and commemorate the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., with a series of educational and inspirational events later this month:

Tuesday, January 23 from 4 – 6 p.m. (Scheuer Room): The program kicks off with a social justice workshop presented by the Aorta Foundation. In “Fighting the Systems: Destabilizing Systemic Oppression,” community members will develop a shared language and a deeper analysis of how systemic oppression operates to better understand how we can transform ourselves and our organizations, workplaces, and communities.

Wednesday, January 24 at 6 p.m. (Black Cultural Center): A candlelight vigil will be held in honor of those who have suffered while promoting equality and inclusion.

Thursday, January 25 at 7 p.m. (Scheuer Room): Racial justice and mindfulness mentor Amanda Kemp and her husband, musician Michael Jamanis, will present “Say the Wrong Thing! Racial Justice from the Heart.” They will take the audience “on a musical and poetic journey” through the evolution of a sometimes conflicting creative relationship that led to their signature piece, “The Chaconne Emancipated.” 

Friday, January 26 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. (Friends Meeting House): The commemoration concludes with a collection in memory of Dr. King.

Sponsoring the events are the Black Cultural Center, the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, and the Office of the President.

 

Holding Tension – Making a Place at the Table for Continuing Revelation

This year’s Stephen G. Cary Memorial Lecture at Pendle Hill will be delivered by Swarthmore’s own Prof. Sarah Willie-LeBreton!

Stephen G. Cary Memorial Lecture 2018
“Holding Tension – Making a Place at the Table for Continuing Revelation”

by Sarah Willie-LeBreton

April 2, 2018

7:30pm-9:00pm in the Barn at Pendle Hill.

Sarah Willie-LeBretonIn this talk, I assume that genuine social relationship is necessary for justice, and I argue that its absence leads to what most people might characterize as evil. As much as we hunger for mutuality and connection, for many of us, the daily temptation of our lives is to distinguish ourselves as worthy, aware, and insightful. When we are disconnected from genuine community, very quickly those whom we dislike or with whom we disagree become unworthy, unaware, and even evil in our hearts and minds. The temptation is powerful and understanding its role in our lives can help us to seek out our biggest fears, lead us away from gossip and resentment, and offer us continual experiences where mutuality, humor, kindness, humility and the joy of serendipity are revealed.
Sarah Willie-LeBreton

Sarah Willie-LeBreton teaches at Swarthmore College, where she chairs the Department of Sociology & Anthropology and regularly coordinates the Black Studies Program. A graduate of Haverford College, she serves on its Corporation and Board of Managers and has served on the Pendle Hill Board. Sarah edited and contributed to the volume, Transforming the Academy (2016), and authored Acting Black (2003). Her scholarly interests are in social inequality and complementarity. A convinced Friend, she is a member of Providence Monthly Meeting, Chester Quarter, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.

 Free and open to the public (registration requested).
 Call Pendle Hill for More Information! 610-566-4507, ext. 137

Live streaming will be available to registrants.

The Stephen G. Cary Memorial Lecture was endowed by Norval and Ann Reece and established in 2004 in concert with Pendle Hill’s publication of Steve Cary’s memoir, The Intrepid Quaker: One Man’s Quest for Peace.

Travel directions to Pendle Hill. Click to view the flyer.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Fixing the Jericho Road

By Lee Smithey

I hope everyone finds an opportunity to reflect and take some sort of action (or preparation for action) in pursuit of justice and peace on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

While the nation focuses on service, I am usually drawn on this day to Dr. King’s speech, “Beyond Vietnam.” Public schools are closed today, and I sit in my office at home listening to the speech with my daughter (11 yrs old). I am amazed and touched that we can listen to this together knowing that Alison had the opportunity to meet Dr. Vincent Harding (who wrote the speech for King) at Pendle Hill shortly before his death in 2014.

This speech at Riverside Church was one of King’s most important and controversial speeches because he spoke against the War in Vietnam, drawing the ire of nationalists and even allies, who felt King should remain focused on domestic racial injustices. This was the address during which King decried “the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism.”

It is with such activity that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” [applause] Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments. I am convinced that if we are to get on to the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin [applause], we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see than an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.  

Let’s also remember that this year is the 50th anniversary of King’s assassination, exactly one year to the day after he delivered the Beyond Vietnam speech. (Stay tuned for announcements about commemorative events at the College this spring.) I hope to get a few minutes today to make a bit more progress through Michael K. Honey’s book, Going Down Jericho Road: The Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King’s Last Campaign. On the night before he was killed, as he delivered another momentous speech about the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike, King was again talking about both service (using the parable of the Good Samaritan and emphasizing fixing the dangerous Jericho Road itself.

What a humbling challenge. It is a privilege to share this day with you, and I look forward to the coming semester as we renew our work together.