Recordings of Convocations
- Created 10 April 2015; Published 15 April 2015Convocation: Becky Morrison
Becky Morrison is founder of Globetops, an online community that is redefining recycling, being creative about what we do with our waste. Roughly 220 million tons of old computers and other tech hardware are trashed in the United States every year. Half of those computers are in good working order. That’s 110 million tons of useful computer hardware wasted. What if each of those computers ended up not in a landfill, but in the hands of someone who needed one? What kind of future would we create if we made the unused, usable again, providing people across the globe the opportunity for connection, exploration, and the empowerment of their ideas? Globetops collects and refurbishes electronic waste, converting it into a usable instrument of world change. Globetops is not your traditional donation-based charity. It’s not a corporate philanthropy program. It is a network of people providing for people and being provided for. It is an exploration of the human desire for connection and a harmony of resources. Fueled by a collection of individuals taking on something bigger than themselves, Globetops is dissolving the divide between giver and receiver, establishing a model of redistribution that can have tremendous impact on the future of our planet. At the same time, they are demonstrating that in this era of global connectedness, having relationships with people from around the world is easier than ever, as is effecting social change. The title of Morrison’s presentation is “Revolutionary Ideas: How to Achieve the Impossible.”
- Created 3 April 2015; Published 8 April 2015Convocation: Ysaye Barnwell
Ysaye Maria Barnwell was a member of the African American a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock from 1979 to 2013 and is a renowned female bass. A prolific composer, she wrote many of the group’s songs, as well as being commissioned to create music for dance, choral, film, and stage productions. With degrees in speech pathology, cranio-facial studies, and public health she has been a professor, researcher, and author in addition to her career as musician and choral clinician, successfully demonstrating a relationship between music, the arts, and health. Barnwell is also the recipient of multiple honorary doctorate degrees.
Barnwell has been building vocal communities on three continents for over thirty years. Immersed in an African world view of music, she has traced the evolution of African American communal vocal music from Africa through Spirituals and work songs to the music of the Civil Rights Movement. The tradition is being eroded by the evolution of technology, and she is on a mission to keep it alive. The title of her presentation is “Building Vocal Communities.”
- Created 27 February 2015; Published 5 March 2015Convocation: Saru Jayaraman
Saru Jayaraman founded Restaurant Opportunities Centers New York after September 11, 2001, to provide support to restaurant workers displaced as a result of the World Trade Center tragedy. The organization soon grew to support restaurant workers all over New York City and to advocate for improved working conditions. In 2007, Jayaraman organized the country’s first national restaurant workers’ convening in Chicago, and subsequently launched Restaurant Opportunities Centers United in January 2008, with a mission to improve wages and working conditions for the nation’s restaurant workforce.
In her presentation, titled “Behind the Kitchen Door,” Jayaraman draws attention to servers, bussers, runners, cooks, and dishwashers across the country struggling to support themselves and their families under the often shockingly-exploitative conditions that exist in many restaurants.
- Created 20 February 2015; Published 23 February 2015Convocation: Kelsey Timmerman
Kelsey Timmerman is an investigative journalist who has trekked the planet and put a human face on the global economy. With a desire to know where his clothes came from and who made them, he began an adventure that would take him from Honduras to Bangladesh to Cambodia to China and back again. The result was his first book, Where Am I Wearing: A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories, and People That Make Our Clothes. This was followed up by a global quest to meet the farmers and fishermen who grow and catch our food, which Timmerman documented in his latest book, Where Am I Eating?: An Adventure Through the Global Food Economy. Now he travels the world and shares the stories of the people he meets, educating audiences and promoting dialogue about how to improve our world economy.
- Created 13 February 2015; Published 19 February 2015Convocation: Sam Polk
Sam Polk is Founder and Executive Director of Groceryships. A Groceryship is a scholarship for groceries, providing families the money to buy fruits, vegetables, grains, beans and seeds for six months, along with a comprehensive program of education and support to empower them to increase health by incorporating more of these healthful foods into their diets. Families who are awarded Groceryships receive support on five levels: Financial, Medical, Educational, Emotional, and Resources. Groceryships aims to empower families to live healthfully for generations to come. Sponsored by the Thomas M. Crosby, Sr. Lectureship Fund and the M .H. Wright Family Fund, the title of Polk's presentation is "Redefining Ambition."
- Created 6 February 2015; Published 10 February 2015Convocation: Javon Johnson
Merging race and gender theory with comedy, lyricism, and rhyme schemes, Javon Johnson is an enlightening spoken word poet and professor. Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at San Francisco State University, Johnson earned his Ph.D. in Performance Studies, with a cognate in African American Studies and a certificate in Gender Studies, from Northwestern University. He is a back-to-back national poetry slam champion (2003 & 2004), has appeared on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, BET’s Lyric Café, TVOne’s Verses & Flow, and co-wrote a documentary titled Crossover, which aired on Showtime, in collaboration with the NBA and Nike. He has written for Our Weekly, Text & Performance Quarterly, The Root, and is currently working on his book about how Blackness operates in slam and spoken word poetry communities. The title of his presentation is "And, Your Kids Will Be Painted Black!"
- Created 30 January 2015; Published 5 February 2015Convocation: Adam Falkner
Writer, performer, and educational consultant Adam Falkner is the Founder and Executive Director of the Dialogue Arts Project (DAP), an organization dedicated to using creative writing and the arts as tools for generating difficult dialogue across lines of social identity, conflict and difference.
Twice-nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Falkner’s work has been published in Painted Bride Quarterly, Anti-, The Literary Bohemian, and elsewhere, and has been incorporated into coursepacks for use in sociology and social work curricula throughout higher education. Falkner was the featured performer at President Obama's Grassroots Ball at the 2009 Presidential Inauguration, and he is currently an adjunct instructor at Columbia University Teachers College. The title of his presentation is “How Can Writing Change the World?”
- Created 23 January 2015; Published 30 January 2015Convocation: Lindsey Thomas
Lindsey Thomas is the Assistant Hennepin County Medical Examiner. She received her B.A. in chemistry from Oberlin College, earned her M.D. at the University of Michigan Medical School, and served her residency with the Pathology Department of the University of Michigan Medical Center. She has served in a variety of capacities related to the field of forensic pathology.
At the intersection of science, technology, and the judicial system, Thomas also serves on the board of directors of the Minnesota Innocence Project which represents people who were wrongfully convicted for crimes they did not commit, educates attorneys and criminal justice professionals on best practices, and works to reform the procedures that produce such unjust results. The title of her presentation is “CSI Minnesota: The True Story of Death Investigation.”
- Created 16 January 2015; Published 19 January 2015Convocation: Dawn Porter
Dawn Porter is an attorney, civil justice crusader and an award-winning documentary filmmaker who understands the deficiencies of the United States criminal justice system and what it takes to maintain the passion and commitment to be a public defender. Twelve million people are arrested in the U.S. each year and millions of those cases will proceed through the criminal justice system. Most will be represented by public defenders—lawyers who represent low income people accused of crimes. Often these lawyers receive little or no training, resources or support. What does that mean for our system of justice?
Lawyer turned filmmaker, Porter spent three and a half years following three public defenders working in the deep south. The result was Gideon's Army, a feature documentary about their work which premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and aired on HBO Documentary Films in July of that year. The title of her presentation is “Defending America in the Age of Mass Incarceration.”
- Created 9 January 2015; Published 12 January 2015Convocation: Michael Shermer
Dr. Michael Shermer is the founding publisher of Skeptic magazine, the executive director of the Skeptics Society, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, and a prolific author. In this age of supposed scientific enlightenment, many people still believe in mind reading, past-life regression theory, and alien abduction. Shermer wages a no-holds-barred assault on popular superstitions and prejudices, debunking nonsensical claims and exploring the very human reasons people find otherworldly phenomena, conspiracy theories, and cults so appealing.
A science historian and crusader, Shermer holds degrees in psychology, experimental psychology, and the history of science, and was a college professor for 20 years. He has appeared on such shows as The Colbert Report, 20/20, Dateline, Charlie Rose, Larry King Live, Oprah, Unsolved Mysteries (but, proudly, never Jerry Springer!), and other shows as a skeptic of weird and extraordinary claims, as well as interviews in countless documentaries aired on PBS, A&E, Discovery, The History Channel, The Science Channel, and The Learning Channel. He was the co-host and co-producer of the 13-hour Family Channel television series, "Exploring the Unknown." The title of his presentation is "Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time." (Sponsored by the Irene Whitney Distinguished Visitor Lectureship Fund)
- Created 7 November 2014; Published 31 December 2014Convocation: Waneek Horn-Miller
Waneek Horn-Miller has overcome discrimination, self-doubt, and an infamous incident of violence to emerge as one of North America’s most inspiring Native speakers. With purpose and poise, she traverses the intersection of two generations of Native people, working to mend the dysfunctional relationship between Native and non-Native communities through social and political change. A Mohawk from the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory near Montreal, Horn-Miller was behind the lines during the Oka crisis in 1990 when she was stabbed by a Canadian soldier’s bayonet. This near-death experience marked a turning point in her life. Instead of recoiling, she came back stronger than ever. In 2000, she appeared on the cover of TIME magazine, in her role as co-captain of Canada’s Olympic women’s water polo team. More recently, Horn-Miller has worked to attract Aboriginal youth to higher education by building self-esteem and emphasizing a balance between education and sports, and she has teamed up with the Aboriginal Peoples’ Television Network and health experts to launch a fitness and healthy-eating initiative called Working It Out Together. The title of her presentation is "First Nations Rights." (Sponsored by the Office of Intercultural and International Life)
- Created 24 October 2014; Published 30 December 2014Convocation: Charles Kernaghan
Charles Kernaghan is director of the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights which is dedicated to the promotion and defense of internationally recognized worker rights in the global economy. With a widespread and highly experienced team of international advocates, the Institute responds to appeals for support from exploited workers all over the developing world who produce goods for export to the U.S. The Institute undertakes in-depth research, public education and popular campaigns that empower the American people to provide support and solidarity to workers struggling to defend their most basic rights. As workers across the developing world fight for their right to work in dignity, in healthy and safe workplaces, to earn a living wage and to organize independent unions, the Institute provides solidarity and international visibility to support their efforts. The Institute also continues to demand that corporations be held legally accountable to respect core internationally recognized worker rights standards. Kernaghan first became involved in the protection of worker rights while on an international peace march through Central America in the mid-80s, when scores of union leaders were being assassinated. He joined the Institute in 1988 and became its director in 1991. He is perhaps best known as "the man who made Kathie Lee cry" after exposing that 13-year-old children were working in a brutal Honduran sweatshop earning just pennies an hour sewing Kathie Lee Gifford's clothing line for Wal-Mart. Kernaghan's work is widely recognized as having launched the anti-sweatshop movement in the U.S. The title of his presentation is "The Race to the Bottom in the Global Economy." (Sponsored by the Irene Whitney Distinguished Visitor Lectureship Fund)
- Created 17 October 2014; Published 21 October 2014Convocation: Robert Paarlberg ’67
Robert Paarlberg ’67 is a researcher on food and agricultural policy, with a focus on farming technologies and poverty in the developing world. This topic connects Paarlberg both to his own family history (his father grew up on a farm in Indiana) and to an important current issue in international development: how to help farmers in Africa – most of whom are women – increase their productivity to better feed their families and escape poverty. His book, Starved for Science: How Biotechnology Is Being Kept Out of Africa, explains why poor African farmers are denied access to productive technologies, particularly genetically engineered seeds with improved resistance to insects and drought. He also has published books on the use of food as a weapon (Food Trade and Foreign Policy), on international agricultural trade negotiations (Fixing Farm Trade), on environmentally sustainable farming in developing countries (Countrysides at Risk), on U.S. foreign economic policy (Leadership Abroad Begins at Home), on the reform of U.S. agricultural policy (Policy Reform in American Agriculture), and on the regulation of biotechnology in developing countries (The Politics of Precaution). In the past decade Paarlberg has worked in more than a dozen countries in Africa, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the International Food Policy Research Institute, and the United States Agency for International Development. Paarlberg is a Professor of Political Science at Wellesley College, Adjunct Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, and Associate at Harvard’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. The title of his presentation is "The Political Fight over Food and Farming: Who is Winning?" (Sponsored by the Class of 1957 Revolving Lectureship Fund)
- Created 10 October 2014; Published 21 October 2014Convocation: Jake Porway
Jake Porway is a matchmaker. He sees social change organizations working hard to make the world a better place, collecting mountains of data, but lacking skills and resources to understand and use that wealth of information to advance their mission. He sees data scientists with amazing skills and cutting-edge tools eager to use their talent to accomplish something meaningful, yet cut off from channels that would allow them to do so. He sees governments ready to make unprecedented amounts of data open and available, but disconnected from people who need it. For Porway, it's a match waiting to happen and exactly why he founded DataKind (formerly Data Without Borders). They connect nonprofits, NGOs, and other data-rich social change organizations with data scientists willing to donate their time and knowledge to solve social, environmental, and community problems. Porway pionts out that there are dozens of apps to help us find movies or choose restaurants. Nice, but isn’t that really just making very comfortable lives slightly more comfortable? What if we also used the power of data analysis to do something that could change the world? The title of his presentation is “Using Data for the Greater Good.” (Sponsored by the QuIRK Initiative, the Thomas M. Crosby Sr. Lectureship Fund, and the M.H. Wright Family Fund)
- Created 3 October 2014; Published 20 October 2014Convocation: Daisy Hernández
Daisy Hernández grew up in New Jersey. That’s where she heard the best stories about Cuba and Colombia and this lady who knows how to eat an avocado so you won’t get pregnant. It’s also where she first learned about race, sex, money, and love. These stories are captured in her new book, A Cup of Water Under My Bed: A Memoir. Hernández is also co-editor of the anthology Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism, which is taught in women studies classes alongside the classic works of feminist theories. At ColorLines, a newsmagazine on race and politics, Hernández worked with a virtual, multi-racial newsroom of reporters, activists, and bloggers. Previously, Hernández was a columnist for Ms. Magazine and worked on the metro desk of The New York Times. Her commentaries have appeared in several publications and her essays have been published in multiple anthologies. The title of her presentation is "Feminism, Sofia Vergara, and Writing about Familia: A Talk on Media Representations." (Sponsored by the Office of Intercultural and International Life)