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May 10, 2015

Learning in the Community: Talking Social Issues

By Valerie Mikell

Society is constantly under scrutiny. Climate change; unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City; white privilege: Such events are more than just household conversations. They impact campuses throughout the country, including Adelphi.

Cornel West, Ph.D. at the Freedom & Social Justice event, as part of the Changing Nature of War and Peace initiative.

Cornel West, Ph.D. at The Art of Protest and Celebration of Peace, as part of the Changing Nature of War and Peace initiative.

The conversation on race and society continued throughout the 2014– 2015 school year. In September acclaimed public speaker, activist and author Cornel West, Ph.D., headlined a two-day event titled The Art of Protest and Celebration of Peace. Dr. West acknowledged Adelphi’s legacy of notable alumni, including Chuck D ’84, ’13 (Hon.) and Rebecca Tobey ’72, then launched into a seamless, hour-long definition of the art of protest. Through a historical, economic, social and political lens, he examined the pursuit of freedom, peace and justice across the globe, stressing that no matter our origins or beliefs, injustice is “a spiritual issue, a moral issue and a political issue.”

Dr. West’s lecture was followed the next day with a concert featuring the socially conscious rapper Talib Kweli. The two events were the signature moments of The Changing Nature of War and Peace, a yearlong series of events that focus on historical, present and future areas of war, conflict and peace, both nationally and internationally.

The conversation on race and society continued throughout the year with protests, lectures and, in response to the events in Ferguson and New York City, Adelphi students protesting on campus and participating in what has been termed a “die-in.” In Spring 2015, Tim Wise, one of the nation’s most prominent antiracist essayists and educators, gave a lecture titled “White Like Me: Why Nice Is Not Enough.”

With The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother by James McBride selected as the Adelphi Community Reads book for 2015–2016, the topic will no doubt be explored further.

This article appeared in the Spring 2015 edition of The Catalyst, the College of Arts and Sciences newsletter.

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Adelphi University, New York, is a highly awarded, nationally ranked, powerfully connected doctoral research university dedicated to transforming students’ lives through small classes with world-class faculty, hands-on learning and innovative ways to support academic and career success. Adelphi offers exceptional liberal arts and sciences programs and professional training, with particular strength in our Core Four—Arts and Humanities, STEM and Social Sciences, the Business and Education Professions, and Health and Wellness.

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