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Skidmore College

New series to spark discussion on topical concerns

October 29, 2010

New series to spark discussion on topical concerns

A new series of campus discussions will focus on how such variables as race, gender, faith, and socioeconomic class connect and challenge members of the Skidmore community.

Winston Grady-Willis, director for intercultural studies and associate professor of American studies, organized much of the series. Titled "Intersections," the program gets under way at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 2, with a panel featuring the Rev. Rick Chrisman, director of religious and spiritual life, Rabbi Linda Motzkin, Jewish chaplain, Marla Segol, assistant professor of religion, and Imam Genghis Khan of Schenectady. A GE engineer who holds a graduate degree from RPI, Khan has been speaking on Islam and Muslims over the past 19 years at various religious, interfaith, educational, and corporate venues. Since 1995, he has been the imam at the Schenectady County Jail and a consultant on Islamic issues to several jails in surrounding counties.   For the past eight years, he's taught an advanced class to teenagers at the Islamic Center of the Capital District. Since 2002, he has been on the Schenectady County Human Rights Commission, where he currently serves as the Chair. 

Tuesday's panel will be in Case Center Commons.

Said Chrisman, who organized the first panel, "Our group will begin by discussing how religion matters in the U.S., and include conversation about religious controversies surrounding public issues, such as the placing of an Islamic center near Ground Zero in New York City. We also will look at the positive influences of religion that are taken for granted, such as spiritual disciplines and charitable work in each of our traditions."

There will be six panels from November through March. Renowned scholar Cornel West, best-selling author of Race Matters and a member of the Princeton University faculty, will conclude the series when he delivers a capstone lecture next April on campus.

All of the discussions are open to the entire Skidmore and Saratoga communities.

In announcing the program, Grady-Willis wrote in an all-college email: "The Intersectionsseries is designed to spark invigorating and substantive dialogue about several often-contested topics that help to inform, even frame, our world: religion, gender, race, sexuality, nation and class. Ideally, the six panels will serve to complicate the particular topics at hand.  For instance, the panel on class may tell us just as much about gender or race; the one on sexuality may tell us a great deal about nation or religion. We're interested in the complex ways these variables inform and challenge each other."

Most of the panels will feature faculty, as well as student and staff participants. Said Grady-Willis, "It is exciting to draw on the strength of the whole community.   This has been an effort to bring the entire campus under the tent."

The program is sponsored by the Committee on Intercultural and Global Understanding of the Skidmore Bias Response Group, as well as the SGA's Committee on Diversity Affairs, which is headed by Sulin Ngo '11, SGA vice president for diversity affairs.

Grady-Willis extended special thanks to those who will serve as panelists, as well as those who organized specific panels:  Chrisman (religion), Mary Zeiss Stange (gender), and Pushkala Prasad (nation).

He added, "Time is precious but we are hoping to that those attending will consider this a worthwhile event.   We do not plan to have linear presentations.   We want to have conversations, sharing thoughts and opinions."

The rest of the schedule is as follows. All discussions begin at 6:30 p.m.

-Nov. 17, Emerson Auditorium - Gender, withStephen Bissonnette and Margaret Smith, both Class of 2012, and Mary Zeiss Stange, professor of gender studies and religion

-Dec. 1, Davis Auditorium - Race,  with Allison Dell Otto '12, Janet Casey, professor of English, Sarah Goodwin, professor of English, and Mason Stokes, associate professor and chair, Department of English

- Feb. 16, 2011, Davis Auditorium - Sexuality,  with Kate Child, assistant director of health promotion, Holly Jackson, visiting assistant professor of English, Beck Krefting, visiting assistant professor of American Studies, Jacob Navarrette '08, assistant director of admissions, and Rebecca Drago '11

-March 1, 2011, Davis Auditorium - Nation,  with Jordana Dym, director of Latin American Studies and associate professor of history, Mar a Fernanda Lander, associate professor of Spanish, and Pushkala Prasad, Zankel Professor of Management and Business

-March 22, 2011, Davis Auditorium - Class, with  Jim Kennelly, director of International Affairs and professor of management and business, Mehmet Odekon, professor of economics , Deborah Warnock, visiting assistant professor of sociology , and Jon Zibbell, visiting assistant professor of anthropology

Cornel West of Princeton University will present the capstone lecture in the series on April 7, 2011. Further details will be announced.


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