Tag Archives: Lang Center

Introducing the 2018–2019 Lang Social Impact Fellows

Congratulations to our alum Fatima Boozarhomehri ’17 as well as A’Dorian Murray-Thomas ’16!


From Swarthmore News and Events

Fatima Boozarhomehri '17
A’Dorian Murray-Thomas ’16 (left) and Fatima Boozarjomehri ’17 will build upon their Lang Opportunity Scholarship projects and mentor current Lang Scholars and other Swarthmore student innovators.

As this year’s pair of Lang Social Impact FellowsA’Dorian Murray-Thomas ’16 and Fatima Boozarjomehri ’17 will “scale up” their efforts for social change with support from the Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility.

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.”

Q&A with Lang Opportunity Scholar Ferial Berjawi ’19

Congratulations to Peace and Conflict Studies special major, Ferial Berjawi ’19!

From News and Events, October 17th, 2018
By Arthur Davis ’19

Ferial Berjawi '19
“I’ve always found myself surrounded by broken women who never received sufficient awareness to determine their own paths,” says Berjawi. “I developed the program to empower these girls to become the pioneers of change in their societies.”

For her Lang Opportunity Scholarship project over the summer, Ferial Berjawi ’19 designed and ran the BetterFly Camp, a six-week program that brought 30 young refugee girls in Lebanon together to discuss body image, legal rights, gender-based violence, and sexual and reproductive health.

The program, which Berjawi discussed with the Arabic news source FutureTV and on Journal Post, targeted Syrian and Palestinian refugee girls in Lebanon between ages 10 and 15. It emerged from Berjawi’s personal experiences and motives.

“I’ve always found myself surrounded by broken women who never received sufficient awareness to determine their own paths,” says the economics and peace & conflict studies special major from Beirut. “I developed the program to empower these girls to become the pioneers of change in their societies.”

Berjawi took a research-based approach to the program and used an array of innovative methods piloted by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) like the Danish Refugee Council and the Women’s Refugee Commission. The Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility, which awarded Berjawi the scholarship, lauded her project as a great example of the impact that students can have around the world through engaged scholarship.

Back at Swarthmore this fall, Berjawi discussed her experiences with and vision for the BetterFly Camp.

How would you describe the work you did this summer with the BetterFly Camp?

Basically, it was a series of psychosocial support sessions that had to do with early marriage, gender-based violence, positive body image–also legal rights, discrimination, power, and positionality. It was just basically addressing the different layers of these girls’ identities and helping them start thinking about who they are and who they want to be in the future. All of them have witnessed [gender-based violence]. All of them have seen it, or might have experienced it. That’s not their fault. They’re not to blame. They’re only the victims, even though they are victims with a lot of agency. So we made sure we were not taking that agency away from them. They should be allowed to find their own agency, look within themselves, and find their own power to rise above social constraint and determine their own paths for the future. So it was more inspiration and empowerment than it was about knowledge.

How did the idea for the project originate?

I grew up with everything that is going on. Just growing up and seeing it, living under the patriarchy, I experienced the sexism, the misogyny, the objectification, the dehumanization of women all the time. So that was part of it. But I never really knew how bad it was until I did an internship with the Danish Refugee Council the summer after my sophomore year. There, I worked closely with the gender-based violence program coordinator [on a large-scale empowerment/education program]. So I thought, “How about I do a similar initiative, but with a different approach?” I thought it would be more effective so the girls could open us up to even more, since it was a smaller group.

What was the Lang Center’s role in the project?

I got the Lang Opportunity Scholarship in December of my sophomore year, and they basically funded my internship that summer with the Danish Refugee Council. I don’t think I would have been able to do it otherwise. They’ve been there, backing me up, all the way. My context is very particular to Lebanon, and even though it may not be their area of expertise, bridging our knowledge together, we were able to make it work.

Is there anything that news excerpts or blurbs tend to miss when describing the big picture of your project? Moments or details that get left out?

There are little victory moments when you’re like, “Yes! This is working!” The final celebration is one example of that. We had our sessions and at the end, I was like, “You know what, girls? Let’s have a final celebration where you present something.” I thought it’d just be an hour. They’d come, they’d get their certificates, and that’d be it. But they wanted to perform. So in a matter of three weeks, we were able to choreograph a dance—two dances, actually—and a play. The parents loved it. After the celebration, they came up to me thanking me for the project. And the girls—five of them were crying their eyes out, so I just started crying, too. It’s one of those moments that are very genuine and very real. I learned more from them than they learned from me, I think.

What are your future plans—for the project or yourself?

Someone actually reached out to me from an American NGO. The director learned about my work from social media, and they want to do another project cycle over winter break. They’re completely funding a new cycle, and I’m going to partner with them on it. And for the future, I’m looking into social impact consulting and nonprofit work. Last summer was super rewarding, but you can do all these interventions and do all this nonprofit work, but their lives will ultimately be shaped by the socioeconomic and political circumstances that they live in. So I want to be working on a more policy level to change the framework itself.

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.”

 

New Class of Lang Opportunity Scholars Announced for 2020

We want to extend our congratulations to the new 2020 class of Lang Opportunity Scholars!!


 

New Class of Lang Opportunity Scholars Announced for 2020

“The Lang Scholar Class of 2020 is an extraordinary cohort who exemplifies vision, courage, and engaged scholarship,” says Lang Scholar Advisor Jennifer Magee. “Their projects span the domains of digital literacy in Egypt, human rights in Nepal, public health in Guatemala, social cohesion in New Zealand, and women’s empowerment from Jordan to Philadelphia and beyond. With the mentoring and resources available through the Lang Center, Lang Scholars gain the knowledge, connections, and skills needed to craft effective and innovative solutions to social problems.”

The Lang Scholar Class of 2020 includes:

Nancy AwadNancy Awad ’20 (Chantilly, Va.). In collaboration with the Hands Along the Nile Organization, Agents of Resilience (Nancy’s intended Lang Project) will address the lack of educational opportunities that orphaned and Coptic young women have access to in rural Upper Egypt. Agents of Resilience will be a digital literacy mentoring and certificate initiative for the young women at the Lillian Trasher Orphanage in Assuit, Egypt. Participants will train one other person or their mentee, thus ensuring that the project is sustained by the local community.

“Joining the LOS program means being a part of a supportive and socially-conscious community,” Awad says, “and finally having the structure, direction, and resources to design and implement a project that I’ve always wanted to do.”


Aayushi Dangol​Aayushi Dangol ’20 (Kathmandu, Nepal). Aayushi’s Lang Project, नव ज्योति [Nawa Jyoti, translated to “New Light”], will be a collaboration with an NGO in Kathmandu to shift from the paradigm of rescue, repatriation, and rehabilitation of those who have been trafficked to an approach that protects and promotes trafficking victims’ human rights. A component of Nawa Jyoti will be a web-based learning platform where the trafficking victims gain vocational and life skills training. It is hoped that through this training, Nawa Jyoti will empower the trafficking survivors and put an end to the uncertainty and passivity which the victims have to encounter. Dangol’s mantra: “Passion, patience, and persistence in all I do.”


Elizabeth ErlerElizabeth Erler ‘20 (Lexington, Mass.). Zone 3 of Guatemala City contains one of the largest garbage dumps in Central America. Elizabeth’s Lang Project, Alianza de salud de zona tres [Zone 3 Health Alliance], will build upon the existing network of neighborhood presidents to bring increased access to preventative and chronic healthcare to the residents of Zone 3. This network of health advocates will work to promote awareness about and treatment of preventable but deadly illnesses such as malnutrition and diarrheal illnesses which devastate these communities and establish long-term community plans to treat chronic diseases including asthma, diabetes, and addiction.

“I am so grateful for the opportunity the LOS Program gives me to return to Guatemala City and partner with the communities in Zone 3,” Erler says. “I am excited to use experiences and lessons from Swarthmore to develop and implement a plan to increase access to healthcare in this community.”


Layla HazainehLayla Hazaineh ‘20 (Amman, Jordan). As a women’s rights activist, Hazaineh strives to amplify the fight against the patriarchy. She has used Facebook as a platform to disseminate videos that address taboo topics and crimes related to misogyny in Jordan and, to date, has 26,388 followers on Facebook from all over the world. With her Lang Project, Hazaineh plans to strengthen her social media platform, elevate it, and create a professional, social, and academic space which will be utilized to fight the patriarchal system, thus empowering women across the Arab world.

“The LOS Program showed me that, when believed in, ideas can grow into projects and projects can turn into a changed and positive reality,” Hazaineh says. “Considering my financial limitations, this scholarship is the opportunity I’ve been hoping for. The LOS Program not only provides support, but also faith in the Lang Scholar, and those are the keys for making change.”


Seimi Park​Seimi Park ’20 (Virginia Beach, Va.). Press for Peace, Park’s intended Lang Project, is an initiative dedicated to promoting the education of women in journalism, media, and communications, with a defined focus on data and technology as platform for impact. Operating in several hubs in the greater Philadelphia area, Press for Peace aims to empower women to use their voices, with the long-term goals of: increased diversity in the fields of technology, media, and telecommunications; economic empowerment through relevant skills-based workshops and training programs; and development of an independent news platform. This model will equip women with the tools to thrive in this capacity, while driving academic and cultural discourse in a time plagued by a lack of productive and constructive dialogue.

“I am honored to be joining the LOS community,” Park says. “The LOS Program is truly one of a kind. It invests in social impact, big ideas, and most of all, students. I have already experienced an incredible amount of support and encouragement through this process and cannot wait to see what the future holds.”


Nancy YuanNancy Yuan ’20 (Auckland, New Zealand) Yuan will explore how to create social cohesion in New Zealand through the integration of indigenous Maori, immigrant, and refugee populations.

“Becoming a Lang Scholar means that I can access mentorship and financial resources needed to develop and implement a project to have a positive impact on my community,” Yuan says. “Through the LOS program, I hope to gain experiences which lay the groundwork for me to continue to pursue my passion for development and public policy even beyond my time at Swarthmore.”

The Eugene M. Lang Opportunity Scholarship Program each year selects up to six members of Swarthmore’s sophomore class as Lang Scholars. Selection criteria include distinguished academic and extra-curricular achievement, leadership qualities, and demonstrated commitment to civic and social responsibility. As its central feature, the program offers each scholar the opportunity and related funding to conceive, design, and carry out an opportunity project that creates a needed social resource and/or effects a significant social change or improved condition of a community in the United States or abroad. In addition, it offers each Scholar a diverse succession of undergraduate and graduate financial and other benefits. The program was conceived and endowed by Eugene M. Lang ’38.

Visiting Lang Professor Denise Crossan Touts Social Entrepreneurship

By Ryan Dougherty
September 9th, 2015
Swarthmore College website

Dr. Denise CrossanIs social entrepreneurship an oxymoron?

It has been for many philanthropists, who worry that building a business model will compromise their mission, and for businesspersons who deem the social part too “touchy feely.” But that’s changing, says Denise Crossan.

“Increasingly, I have students and community members coming to me saying, ‘I have this great business idea, and it’s also going to address a societal problem,’” she says. “There’s definitely space for both.”

Crossan will navigate students through that space as the Eugene M. Lang Visiting Professor for Issues in Social Change this year, responding to a budding interest in doing well and doing good.

“There’s real appetite from students here who want to be engaged in giving back to society through sustainable enterprise,” she says. “It’s about building an organization that makes money that can be reinvested into social purpose or impact.”

Crossan is offering two courses this year through the Peace and Conflict Studies program. This fall, she is teaching a class on what social entrepreneurship is and how to engage in it. In the spring, she will teach a course she calls “finding your inner social entrepreneur,” targeting students who have identified a social issue to which they would like to apply a business model.

“It’s about giving them the space to convert their idea into a viable, sustainable enterprise that creates measurable social change,” says Crossan, emphasizing the interdisciplinary nature of the subject.

“If anyone wants to have a conversation about their research or interests or work that might potentially spin out into social entrepreneurship and wants to come talk with me, I’d be delighted,” she says.

Crossan comes to Swarthmore from Trinity College Dublin’s School of Business, where she was appointed assistant professor of social entrepreneurship — the first post of its kind in Ireland — in 2009. However, it was her background as community business advisor for the European Union Program for Peace & Reconciliation that helped pave her way to Swarthmore.

John Van Til ’61, professor emeritus of urban studies and community planning at Rutgers University, Camden, was one of Crossan’s external examiners for her Ph.D. Noting her deep knowledge of community organizations in Northern Ireland, he mentioned that Swarthmore was looking for someone to set up a study abroad program there. Crossan’s discussions with Steven Piker, former professor of anthropology and advisor to the Off-Campus Study Office, and Rosa Bernard, assistant director of the Off-Campus Study Office, yielded a successful Northern Ireland Program based in Derry and Belfast that has sent 12 Swarthmore students to study peace and reconciliation with Trinity College students since 2005.

Visiting Swarthmore’s campus each year, Crossan developed admiration for the people and purpose of the Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility.

“I thought, ‘We need the Lang Center in Ireland,’” she says. “They inspired me to work toward setting up the Trinity Centre for Social Engagement [pdf], which will foster social innovation and entrepreneurial action and help us to understand meaningful engagement in society.”

Crossan also sits on a panel of experts in social entrepreneurship for the European Commission, whose responsibilities include advising the commission on the development of the Social Business Initiative across the European Union. She is creating a digital map of social enterprise and eager to engage Swarthmore students in mapping social entrepreneurship in Philadelphia and beyond.

Before she could outline her academic plans for the coming year, though, Crossan had to overcome what she called the “information overload” of re-locating to the U.S.: “new house, new job, new car, new I.D.”

But since she was born and spent the first 10 years of her life in Ohio, it’s not all new.

“Things that I remember from when I was little are coming back to me,” she says. “It’s the small things, like the sounds of people cutting their grass at night or the bugs in the trees.”

And she already feels at home in the Swarthmore community.

“They’re just the most engaged and incredibly deep-thinking group of individuals you could possibly meet,” she says. “Even better, it comes without judgment. It’s an incredible institution with fabulous thinkers, which is also very humble, open to new thoughts and people and contributions. That, I absolutely love.”

Dr. Denise Crossan to join Peace and Conflict Studies Program as Lang Professor

The Peace and Conflict Studies program is thrilled to join the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility in welcoming a new colleague in Peace and Conflict Studies for the 2015-2016 academic year!

Dr. Denise Crossan
Lang Visiting Professor for Issues of Social Change
2015-2016

Dr_Denise_Crossan-236x300.jpg

As the Lang Professor, Dr. Denise Crossan will engage with alumni, community members, faculty, staff, and students through instruction, research, and engagement activities surrounding the topics of social innovation and social entrepreneurship.

Dr. Crossan will offer two courses on social entrepreneurship in 2015-2016:

  • PEAC 039 Social Entrepreneurship for Social Change (Fall 2015)
  • PEAC 049 Be the Change: Social Entrepreneurship in Principle and Practice (Spring 2016)

Dr. Crossan joined the School of Business at Trinity College, Dublin (TCD) in January 2009 as Ireland’s first Lecturer in Social Entrepreneurship, and is the founding director of TCD’s new center, Initiative on Social Entrepreneurship.  There she has taught courses such as “Social Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation: Organisation and Management,” and has consulted with many groups as they develop earned income strategies to sustain their work for the common good.

All members of the College community are encouraged to connect with Dr. Crossan during her time at Swarthmore as she is an incredible colleague with expertise in the areas of innovation, leadership, NGOs, social entrepreneurship, as well as strategic management and marketing.

Endowed by Eugene M. Lang ’38, the Lang Visiting Professorship brings to Swarthmore outstanding social scientists, political leaders, and social activists whose careers demonstrate sustained engagement with major issues of social justice, civil liberties, human rights, and democracy.

Along with the sponsoring academic program, Peace and Conflict Studies, this Lang Visiting Professorship is co-hosted by the Lang Center.