Ann Mosely Lesch ’66, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, American University in Cairo, will present the 2014 Islamic Studies Annual Lecture, “Troubled Political Transitions: A Perspective from Egypt”.
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Science Center Room 199
Three years ago, Egyptians rose up to remove Hosni Mubarak’s corrupt authoritarian regime. Since then, they have been on an emotional roller-coaster, from the excitement of participating in three elections, to rising anger during the Muslim Brotherhood’s presidency, and then taking back to the streets to remove that president.
Today, they face uncertainty as to whether presidential elections will strengthen democracy or entrench the security state. Given Egypt’s centrality in the Middle East, it is important to examine and assess its troubled transition.
Sponsored by the Islamic Studies Program, Arabic Section of Modern Languages & Literatures, Department of Political Science, and the Department of Sociology & Anthropology.
Many thanks to Swarthmore’s News and Information Office for this piece that has appeared on the College’s webpage. Congratulations again to Elowyn Corby!
Elowyn Corby ’13 Wins Peace and Justice Studies Thesis Award
by Jenni Lu ’16
October 21, 2013
Elowyn Corby ’13 presented her winning thesis at the Peace and Justice Studies Association’s awards banquet this past weekend.
If you want to be heard, speak up. It’s a basic concept that has driven the progression of democracy, the rise of cohesive communities, and now, Elowyn Corby’s [’13] thesis research, which recently caught the attention of the Peace and Justice Studies Association (PJSA).
Titled “Training for Change: Moving from Theory to Practice in Adult Education for Empowerment,” Corby’s thesis garnered her the association’s 2013 Undergraduate Student Thesis Award. Corby, a peace education and political science major with a minor in conflict studies from Santa Cruz, Calif., accepted the award and presented her work this past weekend at PJSA’s annual meeting in Waterloo, Ontario.
Participation supports both the individual and the collective, according to Corby. It allows for the formation of social trust and social connection between people and within a society, and prevents communities from becoming too insular and controlling. However, participation has always been unevenly distributed.
“What we see is certain people getting heard a lot, often because they tend to participate a lot,” she says. “The government listens to those who participate. My question was, how does education tie into this? We know we need democratic skills and participatory skills. How do we get there? Is that something that can be trained?”
Corby’s hope was to determine whether activism training could reduce the inequalities that typically arise out of the most common way people develop activism skills: in the workplace.
“The experience that you accrue in the workplace is very biased along racial and socioeconomic lines,” she explains. “So if you’re developing leadership experience in the workplace, it’s much more likely that you’re a white male from a privileged socioeconomic background than you’re a person of color, or a woman, from a working class background.”
For her research, Corby chose to focus on Training for Change, an activism training organization that she had been in contact with since her freshman year at Swarthmore. Using them as a case study, she conducted 278 surveys and seven long-form interviews over the span of a year and a half.
“Statistically, Training for Change does increase [participants’] democratic confidence and how much they can engage in issues they care about across the board,” Corby says. “They engage more frequently, they attend more meetings, they run more meetings.”
However, Corby also stumbled upon a second discovery. Not only did Training for Change equalize the participatory playing field, it did so by exponentially increasing activism skills among people of color.
“Training for Change is not only increasing democratic participatory skills,” she says, “but it’s also doing it in a way that disproportionately affects communities that are much more likely to be silenced by our current democratic system. So it’s combating larger social inequalities.”
Corby’s findings have solidified her staunch belief that anyone can become an activist, and hopes that her research can compel more people to consider the inequalities found in current activist participation in a new light. It’s just a matter of channeling your passion and honing your skills.
“I think one of the things that holds activism training back is that it’s not understood very well,” she says. “It’s not seen as something that’s actually viable for facilitating and catalyzing social change. So there’s a lot of need for activism training.”
Corby credits her advisers, Associate Professor of Educational Studies Diane Anderson and Associate Professor of Sociology Lee Smithey, with providing support and encouragement. “Lee in particular spent hours and hours with me going over the data and number crunching,” Corby says. “I feel strange taking credit for this because it was all of us.”
From our friends at the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility:
Debating for Democracy (D4D) on the Road
Saturday, November 3 @ Widener University in Chester, PA10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
D4D on the Road is a one-day training workshop held at Project Pericles campuses around the country. The program is designed to provide novice and seasoned political activists with the tools and tactics they need to get their message across to community leaders, elected officials, the media, and other influential people and organizations. Workshop participants will learn how to analyze federal and state legislation, contact their elected officials and the news media and get involved in elections.
The workshop will be led by Soapbox Consulting, a Washington DC based organization headed by Christopher Kush, the author of The One-Hour Activist. Soapbox is a leading provider of training seminars, workshops, and lobby days for many national associations. The One-Hour Activist, provides advice from elected officials, professional organizers, lobbyists, and journalists on political advocacy.
Student Conference on Democracy and Ethnic Conflict
Monday, November 28, 1:15-4pm, Trotter 301
The final meeting of Pols 79: Democracy and Ethnic Conflict is a conference in which students will present concrete findings from their larger research projects-in-progress. In addition to presenting evidence from a wide variety of cases of ethnic conflict, the conference will seek to identify common themes and patterns, and generate discussion and questions about the cases.
Panel presentations will be followed by comments and a brief Q&A period. Students, faculty, and any other interested parties are welcome to attend all or part of the conference. Refreshments will be provided.
1:15 pm, Migration, Minorities, and Integration
Jeewon Kim: Muslim Integration in France
Natalie Litton: Roma Integration in Western Europe
Josh Gluck: Resources, Migration, and Ethnic Conflict
2:00 pm, Managing and Responding to Ethnic Conflict in Africa
Wen Huang: Post-Genocide Justice Mechanisms
Lorand Laskai: Resource Conflict and Ethnic Identity