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Jonathan Becker, executive vice president of Bard College and vice chancellor of the Open Society University Network (OSUN), talks about what sets OSUN apart from other international partnerships. “We are trying to build this ecosystem across these multiple institutions, which will allow us to be resilient, to regenerate, [and allow] ideas to flow across the network,” he tells Times Higher Education.
Bard College is one of three private, four-year institutions of higher education to receive the first-ever Richard Guarasci Award for Institutional Transformation from Campus Compact, a national coalition of more than 1,000 colleges and universities committed to building democracy through civic education and community development. The award is one of Campus Compact's Impact Awards, which honor "individuals and institutions for their achievement in advancing the public purposes of higher education." Bard was recognized for its commitment to extending opportunities for liberal arts education to historically excluded communities.
“A cornerstone of this work is the Bard Early Colleges High School program, which provides access to credit-bearing, tuition-free college courses in the liberal arts for high schoolers from Manhattan, Queens, Newark, Cleveland, and Baltimore," reads the award announcement from Campus Compact. "Students who participate in the program are taught by college faculty in undergraduate seminars and receive college credits up to an associate of arts degree. Other programs offered by Bard College, such as the Bard Prison Initiative, further demonstrate their commitment to access to education for marginalized groups.”
This award continues an auspicious start to 2020 in which Bard has taken a leadership role in the formation of the Open Society University Network and has received the Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement. Bard is proud to continue its collegiate mission to function as a private college for the public good.
More About the Programs
The Bard High School Early Colleges (BHSEC) were founded in 2001 on the belief that many high-school-age students are eager and ready for the intellectual challenges of a college education. In the BHSEC Class of 2018, 83 percent of students completed the associate’s degree and 96 percent completed the high school diploma with at least one year of transferable college credit. Across the Bard Early College network of 2,850 students, over 40 percent of students are first-generation college students, over 60 percent are low income, and over 70 percent are students of color.
The Bard Prison Initiative (BPI) was founded in 1999 by undergraduates at Bard College in response to the decimation of college-in-prison nationally. Today, BPI is spread across six prisons in New York State. It enrolls over 300 students and organizes a host of extracurricular activities. Since 2001, BPI has issued roughly 50,000 credits and 550 degrees; it offers more than 160 courses per academic year and engages an extraordinary breadth of college faculty.
Civic engagement is at the core of Bard’s institutional mission, which reflects the fundamental belief that higher education institutions can and should operate in the public interest. With an entrepreneurial spirit and a sense of civic duty inspired by social consciousness, the Center for Civic Engagement at Bard College and the Bard Network use their resources to develop vibrant and sustainable programs that tackle critical issues of education and public policy.
Bard Prison Initiative alumnus and staff member Dyjuan Tatro is one of thousands of New Yorkers on parole who can be sent back to jail for technical violations—small and sometimes unavoidable mistakes, like returning home from work after curfew. Tatro and other advocates are fighting to change the strict parole regulations with the Less Is More Act.
Bard’s Clemente Course in the Humanities in Kingston, New York, kicks off its spring session this week at the Kingston Library. Marina van Zuylen, Bard faculty member and Clemente Course director, talks about the nationwide Clemente Course, and how the program connects to Bard’s mission to make college education more inclusive and accessible. The spring 2020 Kingston Clemente Course begins on Thursday, February 6 and takes place on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. There is no tuition, and the program includes free childcare and transportation. Students earn 6 Bard College credits upon completion. Prospective students are encouraged to come to the open house to preview the program on Tuesday, February 4, 6:00 to 8:00 pm, or simply attend the first class on Thursday. Marina van Zuylen is a professor of French and comparative literature at Bard, director of the French Studies Program, and national academic director of the Clemente Course in the Humanities.
Bard MFA alumna Christine Sun Kim performed the national anthem and “America the Beautiful” in American Sign Language at the opening of the Super Bowl, alongside singers Demi Lovato and Yolanda Adams. It was an act of both patriotism and protest. And it brought both joy and frustration. Christine Sun Kim Writes for the New York Times
Malik Gaines, former Bard MFA faculty member, presents new drawings by Kim in ArtForum.
Interview with Kim in Artnet
Bard Archaeologist in Residence Christophe Lindner and anthropology major Ethan Dickerman ’20 copresented a poster exhibit, “Cosmic Context, Emancipated Persons, Germantown Parsonage,” at the annual international conference of the Society for Historical Archaeology in Boston this January. The poster details the hearth at the Maple Avenue Parsonage, or minister’s residence, in Germantown, New York, a site that Bard Archaeology has been excavating since 2009. The hearth dates from 1767–1911, an era in which African Americans first lived in the residence as slaves, next in 1830 as free people with the family of the minister’s physician nephew, and then, in 1852, as owners of the property, where they lived with their relatives until 1911. The excavation revealed a West African cosmography diagram etched in the wooden frame of the cellar fireplace as well as objects concealed beneath the hearthstones, emplaced during rituals of healing and well-being performed on behalf of the community.
Dickerman, who coauthored the poster, recently completed his Senior Project on the Parsonage site and its surrounding communities, from its immediate neighborhood to the larger Mid-Hudson region. Through the Bard Archaeology Field School, a hands-on for-credit summer learning program that he directs, Lindner has worked with Bard undergraduates, local high school students, and colleagues in the community to excavate the site and research the descendants of the 1710 Palatine migration and their later neighbors, including free African Americans. The Palatines in 1710 constituted the largest single mass migration into the colony of New York and established, 10 miles north of Bard, the first substantial German-speaking settlement in the New World.
Lindner will report on this background research and its symbolic material aspects at the Bard Graduate Center symposium “Revealing Communities: The Archaeology of Free African Americans in the 19th Century.” Fourteen speakers will discuss how they have approached researching these communities, many of which were bulwarks in the abolition and early civil rights movements, and places where residents formed positive social connections both between and across racial lines. Yet these important communities have been largely excluded from mainstream American history.
Free and open to the public, the symposium will be held at the Bard Graduate Center in New York City on February 7. For more information or to register, click below.
Bard College has earned the 2020 Carnegie Foundation Classification for Community Engagement for its commitment to connecting higher education and civic life. The classification recognizes excellent alignment among campus mission, culture, leadership, resources, and practices that support dynamic and noteworthy endeavors for the public good. Bard was distinguished for its "exemplary institutionalized practices of community engagement." The College is among a select group of institutions to earn the classification in 2020.
“Receiving the Carnegie Classification for Community Engagement is a tremendous achievement for the College,” says Jonathan Becker, executive vice president and vice president for academic affairs. “It is a recognition of our deep partnerships in the community and our many programs providing access for underrepresented communities across the country, including the Bard High School Early Colleges, the Clemente Course, and the Bard Prison Initiative, and in the Hudson Valley with Brothers at Bard and La Voz, among others. We are thrilled that Bard is increasingly seen as a model of a civically engaged institution at home and abroad.”
Civic engagement is at the core of Bard College’s identity as an institution. The College’s curriculum and campus life stress the connections between academics and active engagement outside the classroom. Bard students are encouraged to initiate projects that tackle social problems and provide public service, from regional issues affecting Bard’s neighbors to topics of international importance. Some student-led endeavors have become long-standing commitments, such as the Bard New Orleans Exchange, which has involved nearly 1,000 student volunteers since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Projects that began as student-led efforts have grown into core college programs. The Bard Prison Initiative, for example, which began as a student project in 2001, has awarded 550 degrees and grown to become a national leader in higher education for incarcerated students.
The news of the Carnegie Classification follows last week’s announcement of the Open Society University Network (OSUN). Bard and Central European University are the founding partners of OSUN, a new international network of higher education and research, founded with a pledge of $1 billion in support from the Open Society Foundations. OSUN aims to transform higher education worldwide by integrating network courses, offering joint-degree programs, and reaching neglected student populations around the world, all advancing the values of open society, including free expression and diversity of beliefs. At its core are the principles of liberal education and civic engagement.
The Carnegie Classification recognizes Bard’s civic engagement and higher education innovations at home and abroad; OSUN will expand those innovations through a larger and more established global network of institutions. Bard College students and faculty will have robust opportunities to collaborate with classmates and colleagues from across the globe, and Bard’s model as a private college for the public good will have a resounding international impact.
Shute, founder of the National Young Farmers Coalition, was interviewed by the Mother Jones food podcast Bite about the challenges faced by the rising generation of American farmers, including more extreme weather, stratospheric land prices, enduring legacies of racism, and corporate domination of food markets that weighs down crop prices.
Leon Botstein will serve as the first chancellor of the Open Society University Network, alongside his role as president of Bard College.Bard College and Central European University (CEU) have, with support from the Open Society Foundations (OSF), launched a new international network of higher education, research, and cultural institutions. George Soros, founder and chair of OSF, has announced a commitment of one billion dollars from OSF to create and support the Open Society University Network (OSUN). He made the announcement on Thursday, January 23, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
OSUN will integrate teaching and research across higher education institutions worldwide. It will offer simultaneously taught network courses and joint degree programs and regularly bring students and faculty from different countries together with in-person and online discussions. The network aims to reach the students who need the most support—neglected populations such as refugees, incarcerated people, and displaced scholars and students. OSUN will promote the values of open society, including free expression and diversity of beliefs.
Bard and CEU will form the core of this new network. Members of Bard’s existing undergraduate liberal arts network, including Al-Quds Bard College of Arts and Sciences, American University of Central Asia, Bard College Berlin, European Humanities University, and Fulbright University of Vietnam, will participate actively in OSUN programs, as will new partners including Ashesi University in Ghana, BRAC University in Bangladesh, and Arizona State University, a leader in distance learning.
"The ideals and goals of OSUN reflect key elements of Bard College’s unique educational programs and innovations developed over the past several decades, from its distinctive undergraduate liberal arts curriculum and its focused graduate programs to its international collaborations," wrote Bard College President Leon Botstein in a letter to the campus community. OSUN will provide substantial opportunities for Bard students and faculty to collaborate with other institutions globally through exchanges, network courses, civic engagement projects, and research. Botstein will serve as OSUN’s first chancellor concurrently with his duties as president of Bard College. Jonathan Becker, Bard’s executive vice president, will assume, alongside his current responsibilities, the role of OSUN’s vice chancellor.
"OSUN is the most transformative initiative in higher education I have witnessed in my career," said President Botstein. "It promises robust and diverse partnerships extending critical inquiry, research, and scholarship on an international scale."
As part of the College’s 10th Annual MLK Day of Engagement, more than 300 Bard students participated in volunteer projects, workshops, and a conference on campus.Bard College students, staff, and faculty celebrated the 10th Annual Martin Luther King Day of Engagement last weekend with a host of events on and off campus. Beginning on Saturday, January 18 and continuing on Monday, January 20, Bard students participated in a series of volunteer projects, civic engagement workshops, and a miniconference on campus. Most participants were first-years on campus for Citizen Science; they were joined by 42 Upper College student leaders.
The weekend's events—organized by the Bard Center for Civic Engagement, the Office of Sustainability, and the Citizen Science Program, in cooperation with local nonprofits—take place as part of the nationwide Day of Service that marks the King holiday. Volunteers around the country respond to Dr. King's call, "Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?'"
Bard students and staff played a significant role in the popular Red Hook Repair Cafe for the second year. Sixteen students joined other local volunteers at the Red Hook Community Center. The Center bustled with community members sharing their expertise, fixing everything from computers to sweaters. Participants made Valentines for senior citizens who receive Meals on Wheels, learned sewing and woodworking, and connected with local nonprofit organizations.
Participants chose from 16 workshops, trainings, and panels on campus that connected Martin Luther King's legacy as a leader in civil rights and social and economic justice with today's local and global challenges. Facilitators focused on helping students build skills to effect change. Students joined workshops on public speaking, identifying fake news, and how to have difficult conversations about bias with friends and relatives, among others. Panel topics included Reconfiguring Radical Black Politics, Biomimicry: How Learning From Our Biological Elders Could Change Our World, and The Legitimacy and Legacy of Historically Black Fraternities and Sororities.
Bard junior Daniella Mingo, MLK Day of Engagement Fellow and Posse Scholar, was thrilled with how eager and excited the students were to venture out into the community. "These groups of students were able to build up structures, volunteer at food pantries and travel even to Woodstock to participate in the Women’s March, raising their voices to demand equality for all living beings. It has been such a rewarding and inspiring experience. I strongly believe that this first-year class has embodied what it means to show up and show out!"
The organizers included a civic engagement miniconference in Olin Auditorium for the second year, after last year's success, featuring a panel of local leaders who discussed inclusive practices for youth and the community as a whole. The College welcomed to the Olin stage Shaniqua Bowden, outreach coordinator for the Kingston Land Trust; Cammie Jones, associate dean for experiential learning and civic engagement at Bard; Jody Miller, Dutchess County human rights/EEO officer; and L'Quette Taylor, Poughkeepsie community organizer and founder of Community Matters 2, Inc.
"My favorite part of MLK Day of Engagement this year was seeing how much everyone cared about the day as a whole," commented Bard sophomore Mikalah Jenifer, MLK Day of Engagement Fellow and also a Posse Scholar. "From students to professors to workshop leaders, everyone was so invested in perpetuating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s legacy."
Bard's community engagement this month doesn't stop with MLK Day. The Bard STEM Outreach team was also excited to host about 450 8th graders from local school districts in Rhinebeck, Pine Plains, Germantown, and Hyde Park. They also welcomed onto campus the 9th and 10th graders from Woodstock Day School. Throughout all the schools' visits, local students learned about this year's Citizen Science topic: water. They analyzed drought mapping, calculated water scarcity in a game format, made ice cream with freezing point depression knowledge, and learned about the life cycle of a plastic water bottle. All of these lessons and activities were created and facilitated by Bard CCE student fellows, through a course called Scientific Literacy and Inquiry.
Bard Junior Karianne Talks about the UN Sustainable Development Goals on MLK Day
Bard College junior Karianne talks about Bard's commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Accord, and how they're organizing students to write to faculty about incorporating the goals into their curricula.
Two Bard College students were awarded a highly competitive Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship by the U.S. Department of State. Art history major Tatiana Alfaro ’21 has been awarded $5,000 towards her studies at Bard College Berlin. “I’m so happy to have received the Gilman award. It’s definitely an honor and was unexpected. My experience with Gilman will enhance my experience abroad. Studying in Berlin will help me have a more global view on the art world, and specifically, what I want my role within it to be. I believe it will be a good opportunity for me to see my personal and academic interests overlap, not only as an art historian but as a global learner.”
Biology major Mary Reid ’21 has been awarded $3,000 for her term at the Lorenzo di Medici Institute in Florence, Italy. “Studying abroad is an aspiration for many students but financial concerns are often an impossible barrier. I am incredibly privileged to reach for my own aspirations as a result of this scholarship, my supportive friends, and my wonderful family. While abroad, I hope to gain a greater knowledge of new cultures and ideas, as well as an increased sense of autonomy and introspection. I am eager to make my study abroad experience live up to my childhood ambitions. Thank you to everyone who has made this possible.”
Gilman Scholars receive up to $5,000 to apply towards their study abroad or internship program costs with additional funding available for the study of a critical language overseas. The Gilman scholarship supports American undergraduate students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad and, since 2001, has enabled more than 31,000 outstanding Americans of diverse backgrounds to engage in a meaningful educational experience abroad. The program has successfully broadened U.S. participation in study abroad, while emphasizing countries and regions where fewer Americans traditionally study. The late Congressman Gilman, who served in the House of Representatives for 30 years, chaired the House Foreign Relations Committee, and was honored with the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Medal in 2002, commented, “Study abroad is a special experience for every student who participates. Living and learning in a vastly different environment of another nation not only exposes our students to alternate views, but also adds an enriching social and cultural experience. It also provides our students with the opportunity to return home with a deeper understanding of their place in the world, encouraging them to be a contributor, rather than a spectator in the international community.”
"For those of us who believe in the liberal ideal—that anyone, regardless of the circumstances of his or her birth, can flourish—the social cost of mass incarceration is deeply troubling," writes Emily Chamlee-Wright. We can find hope for the long-term future in recent proposals to reduce the scope of what’s considered criminal activity and change financial incentives that lead to overcriminalization and excessive punishment. But in the shorter term, how should we address the social cost of having 2.3 million people in prison? "Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s powerful new PBS miniseries College Behind Bars suggests we might find hope in the transformative effect of higher education," writes Chamlee-Wright. "The miniseries follows New York prison inmates who are pursuing liberal arts degrees through the Bard Prison Initiative, a program of Bard College."
The Andrew Goodman Foundation (AGF) is pleased to announce it has accepted three emerging civic leaders to the second cohort of Andrew Goodman Puffin Democracy Fellows. The 2020-2021 Fellows will focus on promoting AGF’s mission to make young voices and votes a powerful force in democracy by increasing access for young voters. The Andrew Goodman Puffin Democracy Fellows program is a multiyear fellowship generously funded by the Puffin Foundation and available to alumni of The Andrew Goodman Foundation’s programs.
Philadelphia Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins featured College Behind Bars and the Bard Prison Initiative for My Cause My Cleats on ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown on December 9. On November 12, BPI was honored to have Jenkins host a special screening of the documentary at the Apollo Theater in New York City.
“As I walked across the stage this year to graduate with my MSW at Hunter College, I thought about the incarcerated people I’ve left behind—especially those who grew up in any of the seven communities where over 70 percent of New York’s prison population come from. I was one of them, ” writes Mack. “If we are serious about criminal justice reform, then restoring Pell Grants for incarcerated students is an essential way forward.” Mack, an alumnus of the Bard Prison Initiative who earned his MSW from Hunter College earlier this year, is director of community engagement and advocacy at JustLeadership, an organization dedicated to ending mass incarceration.
A letter of condolence for the president of Saint Petersburg State University.
Bard CCE senior fellow Jonathan Cristol ’00 considers the Trump administration’s reported request that South Korea increase its contributions to the maintenance of U.S. forces in Korea by 400 percent. “The reported cost increase itself is a non-starter that sends an extraordinarily damaging signal to American allies around the world—and it is a gift to America's adversaries.”
Parts 3 and 4 of College Behind Bars will air on Tuesday, November 26, at 9/8c on PBS stations and stream on PBS.org.College Behind Bars, the PBS documentary series following students in the Bard Prison Initiative, premiered this week, earning widespread praise. The series release is amplifying a national conversation about criminal justice reform and higher education in prison. Parts 1 and 2 of the series aired for the first time on Monday, November 25. Parts 3 and 4 will air on Tuesday, November 26, at 9/8c. The entire series will be available for streaming on PBS for 60 days.
College Behind Bars, a four-part documentary film series directed by award-winning filmmaker Lynn Novick, produced by Sarah Botstein, and executive produced by Ken Burns, tells the story of a small group of incarcerated men and women struggling to earn college degrees and turn their lives around in one of the most rigorous and effective prison education programs in the United States—the Bard Prison Initiative.
Shot over four years in maximum and medium security prisons in New York State, the four-hour film takes viewers on a stark and intimate journey into one of the most pressing issues of our time—our failure to provide meaningful rehabilitation for the over two million Americans living behind bars. Through the personal stories of the students and their families, the film reveals the transformative power of higher education and puts a human face on America’s criminal justice crisis. It raises questions we urgently need to address: What is prison for? Who has access to educational opportunity? Who among us is capable of academic excellence? How can we have justice without redemption?
BPI alumni and staff have been traveling around the country with the filmmakers engaging in conversations about College Behind Bars and their experiences at BPI and beyond.
Mariel Fiori, managing editor of La Voz, and Martha Tepepa of the Levy Economics Institute at Bard College will speak as part of “Immigration Advocacy in the Hudson Valley,” a Chronogram Conversation presented in partnership with Radio Kingston and The River Newsroom. The public is invited to hear from community members who have organized to counteract what they view as unjust federal policies targeting immigrants. Wednesday, December 4, at 6:00 p.m., Holy Cross/Santa Cruz Episcopal Church in Kingston.
A letter of condolence for the president of Saint Petersburg State University.
By Danielle A. Martin ‘20
For some Americans, a college education is a realistic expectation. For others, it remains an inaccessible dream. The Bard Prison Initiative, founded in 1999 by Bard student Max Kenner, challenges the idea of whom higher education serves. What started as a humble Trustee-Leader Scholar project initiated after the elimination of Pell Grants for prisoners in 1994, has blossomed into a wildly successful non-profit organization now featured in its own Ken Burns documentary, College Behind Bars.
The film follows BPI students as they navigate not just the world of academia, but the American prison system as well. It asks the questions that BPI has been asking since the organization was founded: Whom is education for? How does education form and reform students? How do we as Americans shift our understanding of higher education from a privileged rite of passage to a human right? Although BPI does not focus on why its students have been incarcerated, College Behind Bars explores some of the forces that confront them. Often, BPI students are men of color who began their prison terms as teenagers.
I remember that when I was in high school applying to colleges, some adults pulled me aside to tell me that a liberal arts education was a waste of money, that employers would prefer a more ‘focused’ educational track. College Behind Bars and the Bard Prison Initiative demonstrate that a liberal arts education is not only meaningful but also transformative—perhaps even redemptive. The students featured in the film do not leave the classroom merely ‘educated’; they leave their classrooms with a better understanding of themselves, the world they inhabit, and the options they have to overcome the obstacles in front of them.
In an article for Reasons to Be Happy titled “I’m Not That Guy Anymore,” BPI Alumnus Alexander Hall writes that the state university he attended “had developed its pedagogical approaches from the same manuals my public schools had: isolated and inapplicable to the life I lived outside. It seemed pointless to me to memorize formulas that I thought had no relationship to the real world.” After finding himself incarcerated, and later applying to BPI’s program, he discovered the world of academia had transformed into a system that “seemed to put words to so many things I had experienced, especially in my adolescence.” With a recidivism rate of less than 3%, it’s fair to say that BPI students feel similarly fulfilled by a liberal arts education.
College Behind Bars airs on PBS, November 25th and 26th. Directed by Ken Burns and produced by Lynn Novick and Sarah Botstein, the four-part documentary will bring national attention to both the American higher education system and the American justice system and how they intersect. More information on how to stream the program and how to support college in prison can be found on the Bard Prison Initiative website.
By Najwa Jamal '21
The impending 2020 Presidential election has seemingly consumed all of our attention. While the contest will be a spectacle of high priced campaign ads and national-level issues, this year's local elections, held on November 5th, recalibrated time and energy towards local matters. With initiatives and policies directly affecting the surrounding municipalities and the Bard campus community, students stepped up to the plate when it came to their civic duty to vote.
Bard students were eager to take “a seat at the table,” said Ava Mazzye ‘20. Mazzye is the director of Election@Bard, a student-led initiative sponsored by the CCE and the Andrew Goodman Foundation that works to increase voter turnout on Bard’s Annandale campus and the surrounding communities. Mazzye and a team of dedicated undergrads hand out information on candidates, polling locations, and assist with voter registration. They also arrange for shuttles to take students to the Bard College polling station in nearby Barrytown with regular runs from noon to 9pm on Election Day.
Many of the candidates, some of whom are Bard Alumni/ae, visited campus and tabled at Kline to make their case for election. Jacob Testa, Bill Hamel, and Robert George were among them. They distributed campaign materials and answered student questions about maintaining affordable rent, preserving rural lands, and addressing water quality in the Town of Red Hook. Dutchess County Legislator Kristofer Munn, hoping for high voter turnout, said, “a handful of votes could decide our three county-wide races.”
All the efforts, by the candidates and especially by the team at Election@Bard, paid off. Bard College students voted in record numbers. At polling stations in Barrytown, Tivoli, and Rhinebeck, students voted at a rate of 40-49%. In recognition, the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge awarded Bard College a Gold Seal at its November 12 awards ceremony honoring colleges that demonstrated excellence in nonpartisan student voter engagement.
Bard students have a history of voting in impressive numbers. This election was no different. A balance was struck between national and local election education and engagement. Mazzye sees this as a beacon of hope for the longevity of student voter participation. “When folks are politically active in their younger years, it tends to signal a lifetime of engagement.” she said. “For Bard students, this is just the beginning of a long future of political participation, activism and protest.”
by Audrey Russell ‘20
Bard College is the only American institution of higher education with a dual-degree program in Palestine. With a deep partnership with Al Quds University in the West Bank, manifested by Al Quds Bard (AQB), Bard regularly hosts exchange students on the Annandale campus. Going in the other direction, the Bard Palestinian Youth Initiative (BPYI), a longstanding TLS student-led initiative, has for years sent Bard undergraduates to Mas’ha, a village in the West Bank. There, students teach a liberal arts curriculum to local children and teens.
While recent tensions in the region have made it difficult for students to visit Mas’ha, BPYI is adapting its focus so Bard students can stay connected to the community.
Genevieve Chiola ‘20 has worked with BPYI since her freshman year. She now leads the project. She remembers traveling to Mas’ha in 2017 and feeling a connection that remains today. After assessing the project’s current abilities, Chiola has decided to put its funding and energy into something more feasible: building a soccer field in the village. Chiola is also communicating with members of the the Palestinian community here in the Hudson Valley to raise funds and organize letter-writing campaigns. About the strategy, she says, “It’s not a permanent move away from our current mission, it’s just a detour–the ebb and flow of running a project like this.”
Bard and BPYI have worked hard to acclimatize to changing conditions in a turbulent part of the world. One day, students will again travel from Annandale to Palestine to engage the community and study at Al Quds Bard. Until then, the colleges, students, and community, are finding ways to stay connected and engaged.
This semester, Engaged Liberal Arts and Sciences commemorates its fifth year inviting students to choose from more than 25 courses that add experiential learning in civic engagement to their respective curricula. Students have more unique opportunities than ever before to engage with the community while pursuing their own academic interests. This semester also marks a significant increase in the diversity of ELAS courses, with offerings ranging from Anthropology and Mathematics to Political Science and Environmental and Urban Sciences.
Two ELAS courses, Food Microbiology: Cider Making and the Art of Science and Fermentation, make good use of Bard College’s recent acquisition of Montgomery Place Orchards. There, students learn directly from the experts about real-world applications of scientific concepts. The classes also visited Scrumpy Ewe Cider in Richmondville and KyMar Farm in Charlotteville to witness the science of fermentation in the business of beverage production and distribution.
In Writing, Science, and Environmental Issues, students ventured onto the Hudson River to conduct research on invasive species and take an up close look at local environmental concerns. The Argentine Tango course featured a Bandoneon performance by Javier Sanchez; This Class is a Podcast is facilitating connections between Bard students and community partners from Kingston using facilities provided by Radio Kingston and will culminate in a presentation at the Kingston Artist Collective in December.
Finally, the ELAS/International Network course, Engaged Citizenship, is being taught by CCE heads Jonathan Becker and Erin Cannan. The course connects students on the Annandale campus with those from the International Network, tying together civic engagement in disparate communities around the globe. Featured speakers this semester included New Orleans mayor and Bard Alumna LaToya Cantrell and Texas ACLU attorney Tommy Buser-Clancy.
The ELAS courses have been very successful in capturing the interest of Bard undergraduates. According to a survey performed this past spring, archaeology students were happy to find “the ways in which the information that we were discovering could help people in the surrounding area engage better with their landscape.” Other students found “a sense of purpose and meaning to what we’re learning” They were pleased that the ELAS courses “[showed] what we can do with our major outside Bard” The Argentinian Tango course inspired one student to respond, “Human connection is fundamental to civic engagement.”
Significant new data on Bard's two high school early colleges in New York City reveals them as the state leaders in on-time college success. New analysis from the Education Trust–New York follows the rates at which low-income high school students in New York State are progressing to a bachelor's degree. Their research shows that Bard High School Early College (BHSEC) Manhattan and BHSEC Queens, of New York State's 1,100 public high schools, are the two leading schools in on-time college success for economically disadvantaged students. Low-income students who graduate from BHSEC complete bachelor's degrees on time at a higher rate than at any other high school in New York State.
The data validates a central premise of BHSEC: that young people have a greater chance of success when we challenge and inspire them at a younger age. Since the first BHSEC was founded in 2001, over 3,000 students have earned Bard associate in arts degrees. Today, across eight Bard Early Colleges nationwide, half of Bard's 3,000 early college students are first-generation college goers.
"The BHSEC community should be truly proud," says Stephen Tremaine, Vice President for Early College Policies and Programs at Bard. "At the heart of the BHSEC community is an idea that we take extraordinary pride in: that, through inclusive excellence, education can resolve—not reflect—long-held disparities."
Bard College received a gold seal, the highest honor, at the 2019 ALL IN Challenge Awards Ceremony held to recognize colleges and universities committed to increasing college student voting rates. Bard achieved a student voting rate between 40 percent and 49 percent.
“Bard students truly appreciate the importance of voting as one of the first rites of passage into participatory American democracy. Their engagement is key to our future and exemplifies the spirit of the 26th Amendment where young adult voices are equal and encouraged. It’s part of what drives Election@Bard to inspire a student voter culture,” said Erin Cannan, vice president for student affairs.
Student participation in elections has increased from the 2014 midterm election to the recent 2018 midterm election. According to the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement, an initiative of Tufts University’s Institute for Democracy & Higher Education, voter turnout at the more than 1,000 institutions participating in the study increased by 21 points, from 19 percent to 40 percent. The voter registration rates for Bard College demonstrate that 47.2 percent of students voted in the 2018 elections and 82.5 percent of students were registered and eligible to vote.
“Working in partnership with the Center for Civic Engagement and the Andrew Goodman Foundation, we saw a huge rise in students voting in the 2018 midterm election,” said Ava Mazzye ’20, student director of Election@Bard. “We hope this is the beginning of a lifelong commitment to democratic engagement.”
“We are excited to honor Bard College with an ALL IN Challenge gold seal in recognition of their intentional efforts to increase democratic engagement and full voter participation,” said Jennifer Domagal-Goldman, executive director of the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. “More institutions like Bard are changing the culture on campus by institutionalizing nonpartisan democratic engagement efforts that are resulting in the incredible student voter turnout rates that we’ve seen across the country.”
The ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge is a nonpartisan, national initiative recognizing and supporting campuses as they work to increase nonpartisan democratic engagement and full student voter participation. The Challenge encourages higher education institutions to help students form the habits of active and informed citizenship, and make democratic participation a core value on their campus. More than 560 campuses, enrolling more than 6.2 million students, have joined the Challenge since its launch in summer 2016.
So much of what has catapulted race and racial identity into the mainstream over the past 10 years has been molded by our political climate. Of course, this emphasis on identity politics happens on the left as well as the right—and it’s growing. “It’s a bad strategy to have an identity-based strategy on the left,” says Williams. “Deemphasizing identity all around would help our politics because we would have to pay more attention to the issues. We may have to pay more attention to class if we didn’t have these self-defeating identity agendas.”
The artist and cook Mirna Bamieh created the Palestine Hosting Society in 2017 to preserve and share Palestinian recipes and, by extension, the cultural identity they represent, in the face of state-imposed displacement. For the project, Bamieh stages on-site performance pieces centered around the preparation and serving of meals she’s learned to create via oral tradition. She calls these performances “tables,” and the world premiere of her newest table, titled Menu of Dis/appearance, will be presented locally by Bard College and Murray’s in Tivoli November 21–23 as part of the Live Arts Bard Biennial, Where No Wall Remains, which centers on the subject of borders.
Eban Goodstein, director of Bard’s Graduate Programs in Sustainability, says putting the planet and its inhabitants before profits “is an incredible paradigm shift” for business schools that have long trained their students to maximize shareholder value. Bard’s MBA in Sustainability bakes sustainability principles into every class rather than simply offering sustainability electives as many business schools do. “In theory, you don’t want to have a sustainability department. The goal should be to make sustainability part of the business model,” says 34-year-old Nour Shaikh MBA ’16, a vice president at ING Financial Services.
Bard Center for Civic Engagement Senior Fellow James Ketterer, who is currently dean of the School of Continuing Education at the American University Cairo, recently joined WAMC’s Roundtable panel for a conversation about the Trump impeachment inquiry, the climate crisis, and the ongoing protests in Hong Kong, among other issues.
On Monday, November 4, the New England Patriots hosted a special red carpet event and screening of College Behind Bars at Patriot Place in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Bard Prison Initiative alumni Sebastian Yoon and Salih Israil joined NFL stars Jason and Devin McCourty and director Lynn Novick to talk about the film with executive producer Ken Burns. “It kind of goes against the status quo of what we already think the prison system is for,” Jason McCourty said. “’Hey, you did something bad. You should be punished for it.’ Now to understand that there’s another way to rehabilitate people in prison and when they get out, give them an opportunity so they don’t end up back there.”
Bard Prison Initiative alumnus Sebastian Yoon talked with Boston Public Radio along with College Behind Bars filmmakers Lynn Novick and Sarah Botstein. “I believe in BPI very much because when I was 16, I was an insecure boy, and I wanted power and wanted to feel loved,” Yoon says. “And then, when I went to prison, I became reduced to nothing. I went through dehumanization, hopelessness and terrible, terrible loneliness,” Yoon said. “I felt no hope for my future, but then I learned. I got a liberal arts education, and it was liberating. I was able to think not only about myself, but my place in society, what my duties are and what I can do to better for others and the society in which I live.” WGBH, the Boston Public Library, and Bank of America hosted a special preview and discussion of College Behind Bars with Bard alumni, director Lynn Novick, and Congressman Joe Kennedy III on Tuesday, November 5. The series airs November 25 and 26 on PBS.
The Institute for Higher Education and Democracy has released their 2019 report, Democracy Counts 2018: Increased Student and Institutional Engagement. According to the report, mid-term election voting rates at US colleges and universities more than doubled from 19% to 40%. Bard College students, however, voted at a significantly higher rate of 47.2%.
The report contains findings from the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement, an ongoing examination of student voting on U.S. college campuses. More than 1,000 public and private institutions participated in the study. Bard College was among them. In her introduction to the report, Institute director Nancy Thomas made the following comments:
Indeed, Bard College exemplifies this shift, hosting student-led initiatives like Election@Bard that actively encourage and facilitate campus and community electoral participation - driving voting registration and voter information, providing transportation to polling places, hosting watch parties, advocating for accessible polling, and fighting for voting rights.
To reinforce and expand student awareness of local and national elections, CCE coordinates Engaged Liberal Arts and Sciences Courses; a robust offering of classes across departments that incorporate voting information, discussions about citizenship, and other forms of community engagement into extant curricula.
Visit Election@Bard to see how the team provides important information to students about upcoming elections. To read Democracy Counts 2018 in its entirety, click here.
On Friday, October 18, nearly 100 middle school students from Miller Middle School in Kingston, New York, spent the day at Bard College working with undergraduates from the course Pedagogy and Practice in Civic Engagement, an Engaged Liberal Arts and Sciences offering that is crosslisted between Bard’s undergraduate and master of arts in teaching programs. This course is cotaught each year by Bard MAT visiting faculty member Mary Leonard and BHSEC Newark faculty member Michael Murray. The course is designed for Bard undergraduates who are working in one of the College’s many educational outreach programs and who are committed to the idea of civic engagement. Guided by readings in education, the class considers the interpersonal, cultural, social, and ethical issues that arise in the context of civic engagement in schools.
After earning diplomas from the Bard Prison Initiative, these alumni are using their skills to forge new paths.In 2015 the story of the Bard Prison Initiative Debate Union’s win over Harvard became a global news story. Leslie Brody of the Wall Street Journal, who was there for the debate, first broke the story. Now, four years later, Brody reunited with the BPI alumni who were on the debate stage that evening to find out what has happened to each of them since. The debate was also captured by camera crews filming for the upcoming documentary series College Behind Bars, which is coming out on PBS in November.
By Audrey Russell '20
The Center for Civic Engagement is pleased to be part of a new collaborative endeavor between Bard and the City of Kingston. After years of joint initiatives, such as Bard’s Engaged Liberal Arts and Sciences courses and the Clemente Course in the Humanities, President Botstein urged college administrators to begin strategizing for a deeper and more meaningful relationship between Bard and Kingston.
On the college’s end, the partnership includes representatives from across the college. “Kingston is a great place for students to connect classroom learning to the real world, and we want to be a resource to the Kingston community,” said Malia DuMont, Chief of Staff and one of the partnership organizers who recently moved to Kingston herself.
The effort is divided into three focus areas: Science and Sustainability, Arts and Historic Preservation, and Educational Initiatives. Initially the group will focus on holding community conversations, strengthening relationships with Kingston schools, and facilitating more transportation options between Kingston and Red Hook. The partnership will continue to search for new partners to further enrich the relationship between Bard and Kingston.
DuMont is particularly excited to bring Bard’s enthusiasm for community engagement across the river. “Bard does great things out in the world, but we can also do this work in the community right next door,” she said, “And that ultimately makes me feel more connected to Kingston and proud to be a resident.”
By Najwa Jamal '21
Planned Parenthood Mid-Hudson Valley held its annual gala in Rhinebeck on Saturday, September 7. Bard College students, supported by the Center for Civic Engagement, volunteered their time to help them reach their fundraising goals.
Students served appetizers, networked with donors and other attendees, and learned about Planned Parenthood. Their efforts were part of a larger movement among Bard students and others to make the Hudson Valley a more equitable area in regards to reproductive and sexual rights. Student participation was also indicative of the mission of the CCE to foster vital relationships between Bard and community organizations.
Benni Perkins ‘22, one of the volunteers, said about the event, “... It is a call to action in a very particular way. It calls… people with disposable incomes that want to put that money towards something that will change lives and save lives.”
Clare Herzog '22, Nisa Danitz '22 and Maya Aga '22 also participated in the gala event.
Perkins was particularly taken with the diversity of attendees, lauding Planned Parenthood’s success in bringing together “people from all over the Hudson Valley to donate towards the battle for reproductive rights.”
This year’s fundraiser yielded an impressive $215,000. The money will go towards supporting Planned Parenthood Mid-Hudson Valley, as well as its nationwide counterpart.
By Danielle Martin
Bard’s Annandale campus sits between two small villages in the Hudson Valley. The surroundings are decidedly rural:if you don’t drive by at least three farm-stands on your way to get a coffee, you’re probably lost. Some new students, unaccustomed to rolling farmlands, stretching forests, and Bard’s own sprawling campus, might call the setting isolated. Yet “isolated” would be an imprecise adjective; it suggests separation from its neighbors. On the contrary, Bard’s community connections grow deep.
The Trustee Leader Scholar program articulates the depth of the college’s relationships. The program invites students to create, design, and execute community engagement projects. Through TLS projects, students develop meaningful relationships with community organizations locally, regionally, and internationally. One particular project that unites the college with its nesting community is the Astor TLS project.
Located in the heart of nearby Rhinebeck, Astor Services for Children and Families is a residential rehabilitation institution that serves families of the Hudson Valley and the Bronx. Founded in 1904, Astor began as a home for children to recover from physical illnesses. In 1952 the mission of the home changed in order to provide a haven for children who had experienced mental or physical traumas.
The atmosphere inside Astor is exceptionally lively. The children residing there tend to be young — as young as preschool — although some programs accommodate residents up to 21 years old. The kids like to show each other ‘memes’, they dance when they’re happy, they love playing kickball. The Astor TLS project strives to champion this “kid-ness.” Several days a week, groups of Bard students travel to Astor to engage the children in cooking, theater, art projects, and athletic games—whether that’s flag football or an obstacle course designed with help from the kids. The activities allow Bard students to embrace their own playfulness too. And the camaraderie is infectious.
Bard College is more than just a cloistered congregation of students tucked behind apple orchards and maple forests. The Astor TLS project is exemplary of an institute that reaches out to communities near and far with the mission of transforming us, the students, as well as our partners who share with us as much as we hope to share with them.
I recently spoke with the Astor TLS project leader, Samuel Kiley ‘20, to discuss Bard’s work with Astor.
On Monday, October 7, four cadets from the United States Military Academy at West Point joined four members of the Bard Debate Union for a public debate on whether the U.S. prison system should be abolished or reformed. The debate served as an opening event for the annual Hannah Arendt Center Conference, "Racism and Antisemitism," which takes place Thursday and Friday, October 10–11. West Point argued in favor of prison reform, while the Bard team argued in favor of abolishing prisons, drawing upon key arguments about institutionalized racism and criminal justice from Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colourblindness.
The debate was moderated by Dyjuan Tatro '18, a Bard alumnus who began his college career with the Bard Prison Initiative while incarcerated, completed his degree at Bard College in Annandale, and now serves as BPI's government affairs and advancement officer. Dyjuan was also a member of the famous BPI Debate Union team that defeated Harvard in 2015 and is featured in the upcoming PBS documentary College Behind Bars, directed by Lynn Novick and executive produced by Ken Burns. This four-part series follows a dedicated group of BPI students as they pursue their educations while incarcerated. The film is currently in previews and will air and stream on PBS on November 25 and 26.
James Beard Award–winning Chef Sean Sherman, Oglala Lakota from the Pine Ridge reservation and founder of the company The Sioux Chef, is committed to revitalizing Native American cuisine. Chef Sean comes to the Fisher Center to discuss The (R)evolution of Indigenous Food Systems of North America, Tuesday, October 29, in the LUMA Theater at 5 p.m. The talk will be followed by a question and answer period and book signing. Admission is free; to reserve tickets and for additional information visit fishercenter.bard.edu or call the Fisher Center box office at 845-758-7900.
Through his research Chef Sean has uncovered and mapped out the foundations of the indigenous food systems through an indigenous perspective. His book, The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen, earned a 2018 James Beard Award and was a top 10 cookbook of 2017. He has become renowned nationally and internationally in the culinary movement of indigenous foods and is leading a movement to completely redefine North American cuisine.
Copies of The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen will be available for purchase in the lobby of LUMA Theater courtesy of Oblong Books. In addition, Ken Greene from Seedshed will be showcasing Haudenosaunee crops grown in the Native American Seed Sanctuary, a collaborative initiative with the St. Regis Mohawk tribe Seedshed and The Hudson Valley Farm Hub.
This event is sponsored by Bard College’s Center for the Study of Land, Air and Water, American Studies, Environmental and Urban Studies, Bard Farm, Bard Office of Sustainability, Experimental Humanities, The Bard Center for Civic Engagement, Trustee Leader Scholar Program, and Oblong Books. The Fisher Center’s presentation of the event is in tandem with the upcoming Live Arts Bard Biennial, Where No Wall Remains: An International Festival About Borders, November 21–24, 2019.
Chef Sean Sherman, Oglala Lakota, born in Pine Ridge, SD, has been cooking across the US and Mexico over the past 30 years, and has become renowned nationally and internationally in the culinary movement of indigenous foods. Chef Sean has studied extensively to determine the foundations of Native American indigenous foods systems to bring back a sense of Native American cuisine to today’s world. In 2014, he opened the business titled The Sioux Chef as a caterer and food educator in the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area. He and his business partner Dana Thompson also designed and opened the Tatanka Truck, which featured pre-contact foods of the Dakota and Minnesota territories.
In October 2017, Sean was able to perform the first decolonized dinner at the James Beard House in Manhattan along with his team. His first book, The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen was awarded the James Beard medal for Best American Cookbook for 2018 and was chosen as one of the top ten cookbooks of 2017 by the LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, as well as the Smithsonian Magazine. This year, Chef Sean was selected as a Bush Fellow, as well as receiving the 2019 Leadership Award by the James Beard Foundation. The Sioux Chef team of twelve people continues with their mission to help educate and make indigenous foods more accessible to as many communities as possible through the recently founded nonprofit North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems (NATIFS). Learn more: natifs.org.
The Fisher Center develops, produces, and presents performing arts across disciplines through new productions and context-rich programs that challenge and inspire. At once a premier professional performing arts center and a hub for research and education, the Fisher Center supports artists, students, and audiences in the development and examination of artistic ideas and perspectives from the past, present, and future. The organization’s home is the Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, designed by Frank Gehry and located on the campus of Bard College in New York’s Hudson Valley. The Fisher Center offers outstanding programs to many communities, including the students and faculty of Bard, and audiences in the Hudson Valley, New York City, across the country and around the world. The Fisher Center illustrates Bard’s commitment to the performing arts as a cultural and educational necessity. Building on a 150-year history as a competitive and innovative undergraduate institution, Bard is committed to enriching culture, public life, and democratic discourse by training tomorrow’s thought leaders.
Bard faculty members Marina van Zuylen and Daniel Terris spoke at "Educating for Freedom, for All," a forum marking the 75th Anniversary of the Teagle Foundation. The event featured leaders and fresh voices promoting equity in higher education. It took place on Thursday, October 3, at the Harold Pratt House in New York City. Daniel Terris, dean of the Al-Quds Bard College of Arts and Sciences in East Jerusalem, spoke on the panel "Opening Minds" on the topic of educating for citizenship. Marina van Zuylen, professor of French and comparative literature at Bard College and national academic director of the Clemente Course in the Humanities, spoke on the panel "Liberal Arts for All" on how the humanities bring hope to adults in crisis.
The Bard Prison Initiative (BPI) will present a special screening of the upcoming PBS documentary series College Behind Bars at Bard’s Fisher Center on Monday, October 21, at 5 pm. Directed by Lynn Novick, produced by Sarah Botstein, and executive-produced by Ken Burns, College Behind Bars explores the lives of several BPI students as they try to earn Bard College degrees through the program. Shot over four years in maximum and medium security prisons in New York State, the film reveals the power of higher education and raises two key questions: What is prison for? Who has access to educational opportunity?
The Bard Prison Initiative was founded in 1999 by undergraduates at Bard College responding a nationwide decimation of college-in-prison. After obtaining access to the New York State prison system and securing limited funding, then undergraduate Max Kenner ‘01 launched BPI as a pilot program with 15 students. Over the last twenty years, BPI has enrolled hundreds of incarcerated students and impacted thousands more. It has inspired similar programs across the country and persuaded government leaders to begin to reinvest in education in prison at every level. Most importantly, BPI alumni/ae are thriving – earning graduate degrees, establishing careers, and opening businesses.
This preview event will feature segments from the documentary followed by panel discussions with BPI alumni featured in the film, director Lynn Novick, producer Sarah Botstein, and BPI Executive Director Max Kenner ’01.
This screening is free and open to the public, reservations are strongly encouraged. For more information and to reserve tickets, call 845-758-7900 or visit fishercenter.bard.edu.
College Behind Bars is a production of Skiff Mountain Films, in association with Florentine Films. The four-part series airs on PBS November 25-26 and will be available to stream on the PBS Video App.
The Bard College Department of Athletics and Recreation, in partnership with Bard's Center for Civic Engagement, has announced the launch of an initiative to encourage greater participation and leadership in the area of civic and community engagement among student-athletes.
Launched on October 1, 2019, the Raptors Cup is an annual competition between Bard's 19 varsity programs. The name of the winning team will be engraved on the Raptors Cup each year, and the cup will be kept in the trophy case in the Stevenson Athletic Center.
Click here to get the Raptors Cup form.
The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee participated in establishing the goals of the program, which are meant to build the athletic community, inspire leadership and civic development among student-athletes, and to get everyone actively engaged in volunteer efforts, both on campus and off.
Student-athletes can collect points for their team in six value areas:
Bard Center for Civic Engagement Senior Fellow James Ketterer, who is currently dean of the School of Continuing Education at the American University Cairo, recently visited Serbia, where he delivered the keynote address at an event marking the anniversary of the founding of the Center for the Study of the United States of America in the Faculty of Political Sciences at the University of Belgrade. He spoke about continuities and disruptions in American foreign policy in the post–Cold War period. He also gave a presentation at the American Studies Center in the Faculty of Philosophy, focusing on jazz diplomacy, and met with Serbian students as part of the EducationUSA program, discussing with them the value of the liberal arts approach to higher education. The trip was supported by the United States Embassy in Belgrade. While in Serbia, Ketterer met with two people with connections to Bard College, both PhD candidates in political science at the University of Belgrade: Milan Krstic, who participated in the 2017 Bard U.S. Foreign Policy Institute in Annandale, which was supported by the U.S. State Department; and Marko Kovacevic, who was a Program in International Education student in 2005–06, spending the fall semester in Annandale and the spring semester at BGIA.
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