Wednesday, March 3 4:15-6:30 p.m. Science Center Room 199 Swarthmore College
Please join us for a screening of Angels are Made of Light, a documentary that traces the lives of young students and their teachers at a school in the old city of Kabul. The film interweaves the modern history of Afghanistan with present-day portraits, offering an intimate and nuanced view of Afghan society in Kabul. The screening will be followed by a discussion facilitated by Peace & Conflict Studies Professor Amy Kapit.
Pizza will be served!
Sponsored by Peace & Conflict Studies, the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, and Asian Studies
Come join the Political Science Department at the Brown Bag Lunch Thursday, September 16th at 12:30pm to hear Professor Tierney give a short talk on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and the international consequences. Email email@example.com to RSVP. The event will be held in Parrish Tent and lunch will be provided.
Professor of Political Science Dominic Tierney recently joined Matt Leon of KYW Newsradio to discuss the American withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years of conflict and what could’ve been done differently to prevent the resurgence of the Taliban.
Tierney argues that the rapid collapse of the Afghan government was not preordained in 2001 but had become increasingly predictable over the most recent weeks and months. Most surprising, however, seemed to be the lack of armed conflict that preceded the Taliban’s return to power.
“By and large, commanders of the Afghan army surrendered and basically negotiated deals in a process that had probably been in the works for a very long time,” Tierney tells Leon. “It speaks to the deeper issue that we have never really understood the local dynamics in Afghanistan. It may as well have been on the moon from the view of most Americans and, frankly, most D.C. politicians.”
Tierney also discusses the history of American involvement in Afghanistan since 2001 and identifies a lack of nuance in U.S. foreign policy as a potential cause for ultimate failure in Kabul.
“In 2002, the Taliban reached out to the United States and basically stated that they were willing to accept a negotiated deal,” says Tierney. “The amazing thing is that the Bush administration … didn’t even consider it. At the time, we thought the Taliban and the al-Qaeda were the same guys. They were the bad guys, and we were going to put all of them in one bucket and take them out.”
He argues that this “crusading mindset” led the U.S. to waste the leverage it had at the time and allowed the Taliban to slowly reemerge by 2006, culminating in a nationwide insurgency.
Looking ahead, Tierney believes that it will take time before one can evaluate the impact of President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw, especially as it relates to the rights of the nation’s girls and women.
“It’s very certain that there will be restrictive dress and things like that,” he says. “However, the hopeful story is that Afghanistan ends up looking like Iran: a theocracy, rather than Gilead from The Handmaid’s Tale. Maybe we could see the Taliban accepting women as doctors and midwives, and allow them to have some education. Hopefully, regional powers can use their leverage to strongly pressure the Taliban to allow some rights.”
Tierney also appeared in other outlets, such as The Guardian, to discuss recent developments in Afghanistan:
We are delighted to announce that Dr. Amy Kapit will join the Peace and Conflict Studies program, starting Fall 2019.
Professor Kapit will offer a range of exciting new courses:!
Humanitarianism: Education and Conflict
Afghanistan: Where Central and South Asia Meet
Senior Capstone Seminar
(Scroll down to the bottom of this post for course descriptions!)
Dr. Kapit graduated from New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development with a Ph.D. in International Education in 2016. She holds a B.A. in Religion and Peace and Conflict Studies from Swarthmore College.
Dr. Kapit’s research, scholarship, and teaching focuses on the relationships between education and conflict, and on the field of education in emergencies—the provision of education as a form of humanitarian aid. Most recently, she has worked as the Research Director of the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA) and as an Adjunct Assistant Professor in International Education at NYU Steinhardt, where she has taught courses on Politics, Education, and Conflict and Qualitative Research Methods. As GCPEA Research Director, she has developed the organization’s research agenda related to monitoring and reporting violence committed against students, educators, and educational facilities in areas of armed conflict and political violence. She was the lead author of the report Education under Attack 2018.
During her graduate and post-graduate career, Dr. Kapit has conducted research on education in emergencies in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and in Afghanistan. From 2014 to 2016, she was the Research Director of the Assessment of Learning Outcomes and Social Effects of Community-Based Education in Afghanistan. The study, led by professors at New York University and the University of California—Berkeley, examined a community-based education program being implemented by two NGOs in approximately 200 villages in Afghanistan.
In addition, Dr. Kapit has studied the origins of the global movement to protect education from attack and how that new international advocacy network has—or has not—shaped efforts to address violence, harassment, and threats against students, teachers, and educational facilities in places where these attacks occur. Specifically, she has conducted research on the humanitarian community’s efforts to protect students, teachers, and schools in the Middle East.
We look forward to having such a remarkable scholar and teacher join our program!
New courses by Prof. Amy Kapit:
PEA 072 Humanitarianism: Education and Conflict (Fall 2019, Fall 2020)
This course will introduce students to the theory and practice of humanitarianism and, specifically, the provision of education as a humanitarian intervention—what practitioners call “education in emergencies.” The course will delve into the foundations and history of humanitarianism and track how humanitarian intervention evolved over the course of the 20th century, broadening and deepening in scope. It will explore continuing debates over the appropriateness of education as a humanitarian intervention and examine what types of educational interventions are prioritized by humanitarian agencies, as well as the goals that those interventions are trying to achieve. For example, what is the relationship between education and conflict and how do education in emergencies providers intervene to alter that relationship? Students will have the opportunity to study specific examples of education in emergencies programming in countries such as Afghanistan, Colombia, Nepal, Sierra Leone, and Syria, and to hear from guest speakers working in the field of education in emergencies. The course will encourage students to apply what they have learned to policy-oriented exercises.
PEAC 052 Afghanistan: Where Central and South Asia Meet (Fall 2019, Fall 2020)
This course examines conflict, politics, culture, and daily life in present day Afghanistan. Occupying a historic crossroads in Asia, Afghanistan is a place of regional, ethnic, and cultural diversity. Since the beginning of the twentieth century, internal and external actors, including the British Empire, Pashtun dynasties, the Soviet Union, the Taliban, the United States and its allies, and the Islamic State, have battled for control of Afghanistan. Today, as conflict continues, the international community exerts significant influence on Afghanistan’s politics, security, economy, and social institutions. This course will explore themes related to conflict, peacemaking, statebuilding, and international intervention, and their intersection with cultural and ethnic diversity, religion, gender norms, and the lived experiences of Afghan people. Students will read memoirs, literature, and scholarly work from various disciplines.
PEAC 022 Peace Education (Spring 2020, Spring 2021)
In this introductory course, students will explore the historical, ethical, and theoretical foundations of peace education, a subfield of peace and conflict studies. Students will consider different approaches towards peace education: should peace education be oriented towards eliminating physical violence? Facilitating co-existence and understanding? Teaching human rights or citizenship? Empowering the dispossessed and eliminating inequality and injustice? Is peace education best integrated in the existing schooling system, an extracurricular activity, or should it be distinct from schooling? Using case studies, students will critically examine different types of peace education and explore existing research on how they do—or do not—work.
Murray-Thomas and Boozarjomehri will build upon their Lang Opportunity Scholarship projects this year and mentor current Lang Scholars and other Swarthmore student innovators.
“It is through the vision and generosity of Eugene M. Lang ’38, H’81 that communities facing significant challenges have come to know Swarthmore College students and alumni like A’Dorian and Fatima as social change-makers,” says Jennifer Magee, senior associate director of the Lang Center, who designed the Lang Social Impact Fellows program with input from Ben Berger, executive director of the Lang Center, and Salem Shuchman ’84, former Lang Scholar and current Board of Managers chair.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to innovate and build upon the success of the Lang Opportunity Scholarship Program with this pilot program in its second year,” Magee adds. “And we are motivated and inspired to work with A’Dorian and Fatima as they sustain and scale their initiatives.”
The fellowship will allow Murray-Thomas to scale up her SHE Wins project, which started as a Lang Scholar project working with 12–15-year-old girls in Newark, N.J., who had lost a parent or sibling to homicide. Since then, SHE Wins has expanded to an Engaged Scholarship project that works at “the intersection of educational studies, restorative justice, and adolescent psychology” to “empower the next generation of young women leaders.”
“I am thrilled about the opportunity to collaborate with various parts of the greater Swarthmore College community to further enhance the SHE Wins model, and to use my experience to give back to current Lang Scholars, like so many other Lang alumni have given to me,” says Thomas-Murray, who graduated from Swarthmore with a special major in political science and educational studies and, in 2016, was named College Woman of the Year by Glamour and a White House Champion of Change.
Boozarjomehri will expand her efforts with the Afghan refugee population of southern Tehran, designing projects to improve education access and quality for Afghan youth and diversifying economic opportunities for Afghan women. This year, she will broaden the scope of The Fanoos Project, a vocational training program for single mothers.
“I am most looking forward to continue building strong partnerships with local [nongovernmental organizations] and expanding the reach of the program to more mothers in new locations and with better facilities,” says Boozarjohmehri, who majored in Islamic studies and peace & conflict studies at Swarthmore, with support from the Project Pericles Fund. “I’m also really excited about developing a sustainable business model to ensure the continuation of the program for many years.”
We are thrilled to announce three upcoming events in “Reflections From The Field”, a new speaker series at Swarthmore College, which brings people working on the front lines of conflict and social change to campus to reflect upon *what* they do, *why* they do it and how *they* came to do it.
1. “These Birds Walk”, a film screening and conversation with director and cinematographer Omar Mullick.
Monday, March 13th @ 7:30PM Science Center 101
In Karachi, Pakistan, a runaway boy’s life hangs on one critical question: where is home? The streets, an orphanage, or with the family he fled in the first place? Simultaneously heart- wrenching and life-affirming, THESE BIRDS WALK documents the struggles of these wayward street children and the humanitarians looking out for them in an ethereal and inspirational story of resilience. Listed by The New Yorker as one of the best foreign films of the 21st century, this is a must see!
Omar Mullick is a film director and cinematographer known for his work on the 2013 feature film THESE BIRDS WALK. A 2016 Sundance Institute fellow, his most recent work can be seen on VICE’s HBO series, Black Markets, and the Gloria Steinem hosted show Woman on VICELAND. Current clients as a director and cinematographer include CNN, PBS, HBO, VICE, Discovery and The Gates Foundation. Trained as a photographer, his work has been published in The New York Times, Foreign Policy Magazine, National Geographic and TIME. He has received awards from the Doris Duke Foundation, the Western Knight Center for Journalism, Annenberg and Kodak.
2. “Closing the gap between the world we have and the world most people everywhere want”, a virtual conversation with Ricken Patel, Founding President and Executive Director of Avaaz.org, the world’s largest online activist community.
Monday, March 27th @ 4:30 PM Science Center 199
Ricken is the founding President and Executive Director of Avaaz, the world’s largest online activist community with 44 million subscribers in every country of the world.
Ricken has been voted the “ultimate game changer in politics” (Huffington Post), listed in the world’s top 100 thinkers (Foreign Policy magazine) and described as “the global leader of online protest” with a “vaunting sense of optimism” (The Guardian). Prior to starting Avaaz.org, Ricken was the founding Executive Director of ResPublica, a global public entrepreneurship group that worked to end genocide in Darfur and build progressive globalism in US politics, among other projects. Ricken has also lived and worked in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Sudan and Afghanistan, consulting for organizations including the International Crisis Group, the United Nations, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Gates Foundation, Harvard University, CARE International and the International Center for Transitional Justice. Born in Canada, Ricken has a B.A. from Oxford University and a Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard.
3. “From the streets of Kabul to the streets of New York: Reflections on covering war and crime”, a conversation with New York Times reporter, Joseph Goldstein.
Friday, April 7th @ 4:30 PM Science Center 105
Joseph Goldstein’s first newspaper job was at the 6,000-circulation Daily Citizen in Searcy, Ark, where he wrote, among other things, a feature story about how meth-fueled treasure hunters in rural Arkansas were creating an underground economy for arrowheads and other Native American artifacts.
He soon moved to New York City, where he worked at The New York Sun, until its demise, and later at The New York Post. He joined The New York Times in 2011 and writes mainly about the criminal justice system in New York. He has reported on the N.Y.P.D.’s over-reliance on stop-and-frisk tactics and about a secretive police unit that combs the city’s jails for Muslim prisoners in the hopes of pressuring them into becoming informants. He has covered Ferguson, the emergence of the alt-right, and Afghanistan, where he was based for a year.
Sponsored by the Department of Political Science, Global Affairs Program at the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, Media Studies, Career Services, and Peace and Conflict Studies.