Recordings of Convocations
- Created 22 May 2015; Published 28 May 2015Convocation: Esera Tuaolo
Esera Tuaolo is a former professional football player who publicly came out as a gay man in 2003, after retiring from a successful career in the NFL. Tuaolo describes his experience as “taking off a costume I’ve been wearing all my life.” Tuaolo is one of only three former NFL players to ever “come out” and he has since received huge amounts of support from old teammates, the media, and friends and family.
Tuaolo felt forced to hide his sexuality as a gay man while he was playing in the NFL, a sport defined by its hyper-masculine culture. Tuaolo’s secret crippled him, leading him to drink excessively and even contemplate suicide. Tuaolo led a double life that he struggled with deeply, but which he now looks back on with a new perspective. Tuaolo persevered, and since coming out, he has been speaking to schools and corporations about the pervasiveness of homophobia in sports and business, helping organizational leaders understand how to create a safe environment for members and employees, and helping people of all ages learn how to identify and peacefully combat bullying and other forms of discrimination.
Tuaolo’s talk is based on his autobiography “Alone in the Trenches: My Life as a Gay Man in the NFL.”
- Created 15 May 2015; Published 18 May 2015Convocation: Chude Allen ’65
Chude Allen '65 was an exchange student from Carleton to Spelman College when she became involved in the Freedom Summer of 1964. Also known as the Mississippi Summer Project, this was a campaign to attempt to register as many African-American voters as possible in Mississippi, which had historically excluded most blacks from voting. The project also set up dozens of Freedom Schools, Freedom Houses, and community centers in small towns throughout Mississippi to aid the local black population.
Allen shares her experiences as a student activist in the Civil Rights Movement and a Freedom School teacher in her presentation titled “Just Being There Was Against the Law.”
- Created 8 May 2015; Published 11 May 2015Convocation: Ragamala Dance
Aparna Ramaswamy ’97 and Ashwini Ramaswamy ’03 return to Carleton with Ragamala Dance Company to present Sacred Earth. In Sacred Earth, choreographers Ranee Ramaswamy and Aparna Ramaswamy explore the interconnectedness between human emotions and the environments that shape them. Performed with live music, the dancers create a sacred space to honor the divinity in the natural world and the sustenance we derive from it.
Inspired by the philosophies behind the ephemeral arts of kolam and Warli painting and the Tamil Sangam literature of India, Sacred Earth is Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy’s singular vision of the beautiful, fragile relationship between nature and man.
Under the direction of Bharatanatyam choreographers/ dancers Ranee Ramaswamy and Aparna Ramaswamy, Ragamala Dance Company draws from the myth and spirituality of South India to make contemporary dance landscapes that dwell in opposition—secular and spiritual life, inner and outer worlds, human and natural concerns, rhythm and stillness—to find the transcendence that lies in between.
Described as "soulful, imaginative and rhythmically contagious" by The New York Times, Ragamala's work has been presented by Lincoln Center (NY), Kennedy Center (DC), Walker Art Center (MN), American Dance Festival (NC), and National Centre for Performing Arts (Mumbai, India) and is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, National Dance Project, MAP Fund, USArtists International, New Music/USA, and American Composers Forum.
- Created 1 May 2015; Published 5 May 2015Convocation: Kathyrn Harper
Kathryn Harper, senior manager of external relations for Let Girls Lead, is a passionate advocate for girls and women. Let Girls Lead, based at the Public Health Institute, is a global movement that has contributed to improved health, education, livelihoods, and rights of more than 7 million girls by investing in girls and their allies through advocacy, education, economic empowerment, and storytelling.
Let Girls Lead understands that even in the face of poverty, violence, and discrimination, girls are not victims but powerful leaders and inspiring agents of change. Investing in girls creates a catalytic effect that promotes gender equality, contributes to poverty reduction, and improves health outcomes. And yet despite the clear benefit of investing in girls, the global community fails to prioritize girls: less than 2 cents of every 1 dollar in international development funding goes to programs supporting adolescent girls. The title of her presentation is "Invest in Girls, Transform the World."
- Created 24 April 2015; Published 28 April 2015Convocation: Daniel Kurtzer
Following a 29-year career in the U.S. Foreign Service, Daniel Kurtzer retired in 2005 with the rank of Career-Minister. From 2001-2005 he served as the United States Ambassador to Israel and from 1997-2001 as the United States Ambassador to Egypt. He served as a political officer at the American embassies in Cairo and Tel Aviv, Deputy Director of the Office of Egyptian Affairs, speechwriter on the Policy Planning Staff, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Intelligence and Research.
Throughout his career, Kurtzer was instrumental in formulating and executing U.S. policy toward the Middle East peace process. Since leaving government service, Kurtzer has served as an advisor to the Iraq Study Group; as a member of the Board of the American University in Cairo; the Advisory Council of the American Bar Association’s Middle East Rule of Law Initiative, and the Middle East Institute; as the first Commissioner of the professional Israel Baseball League; and as a member of the New Jersey-Israel Commission. He is the co-author of Negotiating Arab-Israeli Peace: American Leadership in the Middle East; co-author of The Peace Puzzle: America’s Quest for Arab-Israeli Peace, 1989-2011; and editor of Pathways to Peace: America and the Arab-Israeli Conflict.
The title of his presentation is "Shifting Sands in the Middle East: Implications for American Policy."
- Created 17 April 2015; Published 24 April 2015Convocation: Arsalan Iftikhar
Arsalan Iftikhar is an international human rights lawyer, global media commentator and author of the book Islamic Pacifism: Global Muslims in the Post-Osama Era. He also serves as Senior Editor for The Islamic Monthly magazine. For over seven years, Iftikhar was a regular on-air weekly commentator for National Public Radio and he was also named one of the top 12 Muslim Twitter accounts in the world by The Huffington Post in May 2011.
His on-the-record interviews, commentaries and analyses have regularly appeared in virtually every major media outlet and his published columns and written articles have appeared in major publications around the world. For many in the media, Iftikhar became Islam’s "It guy," a sought-after interview or commentator for those seeking the American-Muslim perspective. The title of his presentation is "The Future of Islam, Muslims, and the West."
- 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.”