News: Ivan Allen College Lecture Series Tackles Crucial Issues
Posted December 8, 2017
Social justice, intercultural studies, and the timeless value of the humanities in an increasingly interconnected, technology-focused world are foundational to the research, teaching, and public services endeavors of Georgia Tech’s Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts. Those values are strongly reinforced through the College’s 2017 - 2018 Distinguished Lecture Series.
The most recent of the three-speaker series featured Tricia Rose. She is a Brown University professor who helped found the field of hip hop studies with her 1994 book, Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America. Rose later went on to wide recognition as an eminent scholar of black culture, social justice, gender, sexuality, and other issues.
She spoke November 29 to a mixed audience of students and faculty at the Wardlaw Center about the need to incorporate critical and historical perspectives on social justice into curricular offerings in higher education.
Social justice and the Ivan Allen College mission
It’s a call that Jacqueline Royster, dean of the College, takes seriously.
“Our nation was founded on the principles of freedom, justice, and equality,” she said. “We cannot simply proclaim such principles without substantive understanding or commitment or courage. We need to be vigilant about making sure that these principles are operational in the lives of all citizens — an ever-present challenge.”
A new dimension of the College’s work to advance those goals is the Social Justice Minor offered jointly through the School of Literature, Media, and Communication and the School of History and Sociology.
The minor, which supports the Institute’s Strategic Plan and Quality Enhancement Plan, includes courses such as “Class, Power, and Social Inequality,” “Sociology of Gender,” “Ethnicity in American Culture,” and “Science, Technology, and Postcolonialism.”
Isabella Dolor, who will graduate in December with a degree in psychology as well as the new social justice minor, said it can be hard sometimes amid the high-tech focus to find “space to talk about the social issues.” She believes the social justice curriculum is a step in the right direction.
“I’m really proud of the school for trying.”
Michael Bryan, a second year electrical engineering student from Stone Mountain, Ga., is already acting on one of Rose’s recommendations, engaging in what she called a “living curriculum” that seeks to take diversity and social justice awareness into the community.
Bryan is part of an effort to develop a United Nations University Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development at Georgia Tech. Bryan, who is African-American, believes in getting out into the community and showing members of minority and disadvantaged communities that fields like engineering are for them, too.
“I feel like the first step to getting into your community and being in that field and increasing that diversity and increasing that awareness is just being in that spot and showing them that you can get to that point,” he told Rose during the discussion.
Lecture series to conclude in February
Rose’s lecture marked the mid-point of the 2017 - 2018 lecture series, which Royster notes spans areas of deep interest to Ivan Allen students and faculty — global issues, domestic issues, and education.
“All are designed to encourage critical engagement with issues that matter for students whom we know — we do not have to guess — will be leaders, hopefully, good and thoughtful leaders, around the world,” she said.
The series began in November with the Madhboobeh and Parviz Izadi Lecture on Intercultural Peace featuring Carter Center fellow Hrair Balian. This lecture signaled a developing area of scholarship and education in the College that will include global intercultural and peace studies, the Leadership and Multifaith Program (LAMP), and Persian language studies.
The Distinguished Lecture Series will conclude February 15 with a talk by Cathy Davidson, a professor in the English program at the Graduate Center of The City University of New York. She will discuss “The New Education: Liberal Arts in the 21st Century.”
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