News and Notes by Date
|listings 1-6 of 6|
When Catherine Baum started looking at colleges, Bard was on her radar: her older brother, Ben, was already a Bard student. The two siblings grew up in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, home of Bard College at Simon’s Rock, about an hour’s drive from Annandale. Their father is a lawyer and their mother is a writer, artist, and teacher; politics and education were frequent topics of discussion as the siblings grew up. When Catherine was still in high school, Ben was telling her about Bard, how he was studying economics and getting involved in political campaigns. She was impressed with what she heard on the news about the Bard Prison Initiative and she loved visiting the campus. She knew she would apply.
Catherine is now a sophomore at Bard studying Human Rights, and plans to become a teacher. She intends to pursue the College’s 4+1 graduate teaching degree through the Bard Master of Arts in Teaching program.
“I wanted human rights to be the lens through which I thought about teaching,” Catherine explains. She sees education as a human right, and an essential component to an educated citizenry and a functional society. Studying human rights gives her new perspective on the classroom, in which she is more aware of the varied backgrounds and struggles of her students, and on her own role as a teacher.
Catherine is a tutor for a long-running Bard TLS project at the Red Hook Residential Center, a low-security juvenile detention center in Red Hook. She visits the location once a week to give students personalized academic attention. “It’s the hardest teaching environment that I’ve been in so far,” she admits. “We read a book with the students and help them with their homework, and also just talk to them and give them some one-on-one time.”
Catherine believes that approaching young students seriously is critical to their sense of worth and their engagement with the learning process. This became apparent to her during her first year at Bard, in a philosophy course taught by Kritika Yegnashankaran. “She was able to make complicated things simple,” Catherine says. “She had high expectations and created an environment where everyone’s contribution was valuable.” Helping her students feel confident and able to access difficult material has become a cornerstone of her approach to teaching.
Catherine has taken advantage of Bard's location to do outdoor environmental education as well. Through a volunteer project during Bard's MLK Day of Engagement last year, she was introduced to the Clearwater. The Clearwater is a replica of a historic Hudson River sloop, an educational vessel that engages people with the life of the river. "Our main thing is bringing school groups on and teaching them. We teach them about the fish, we teach them about the water quality, and we teach them about history." After volunteering on MLK Day, Catherine applied and was accepted as a member of the crew last summer—she lived on the ship for two months.
“She's amazing," Ben Baum says of his sister. "She’s incredible. She’s so much cooler than I am, it’s a problem.”
When Ben was applying to colleges, he hoped to combine a small classroom environment with the opportunity to compete in college athletics. He visited Bard’s campus and learned about the lacrosse team, and he knew it was “the obvious choice.… I applied to a good number of schools. I realized that Bard offered more of the things that I wanted than any other place.”
Ben, now a senior majoring in economics, attended the Bard Globalization and International Affairs (BGIA) Program in New York City the summer after his sophomore year. BGIA students participate in competitive internships while taking Bard courses. While attending BGIA, Ben received an email about an internship opportunity on Zephyr Teachout's congressional campaign. “BGIA was almost over. I had just started as an intern on Zephyr’s campaign in August and then I actually got hired a couple of weeks after that.”
Ben started out at Bard studying politics and economics without a clear idea of where it would lead him. Working on the campaign brought his academic work into the real world, and he loved it. “I can’t really describe how valuable it was,” he observes. “After I started working on the campaign my life took on meaning and intention that I could never have imagined.... I had always wanted to work in politics, but it was being in that world that made it very clear that this was what I wanted to do.”
While working for Teachout, Ben took an academic leave of absence from Bard to commit to the campaign in Washington, D.C. It was through his work on the Teachout Campaign that Ben met his current employer, a New York State congressman.
To keep up with this college credits, Ben has been taking courses at Georgetown University. He will return to Annandale this fall to complete his Senior Project in the Economics Program, which will examine the role of money in politics. The inspiration for his project, Ben says, comes from a Supreme Court case where Justice Louis Brandeis discusses the “curse of bigness.”
“He talks about how the government shouldn’t be larger than corporations and vice versa—that everything has to be proportional in a sense,” says Ben. “That is the inspiration behind this, looking at that proportion, because I think it’s very much out of proportion.”
The flexibility and support system at Bard encouraged Ben to take risks. “Bard requires self-confidence,” he observes. “There isn’t a rigid structure. They’re teaching you, but you have to take initiative to make it your own—Bard is what you make it. I was given an agency that I wouldn’t have otherwise, and that’s allowed me to make some unorthodox decisions, like taking a leave of absence to go work in D.C.”
“It doesn’t really matter what you do as long as it’s something that’s important and meaningful and fulfilling," he adds. "The desire to feel fulfilled in life, in a really deep way, is what the school teaches. And I think that’s what my future holds.”
Brian Mateo, assistant dean of civic engagement and special assistant for admission and early college outreach at Bard College, has received a Robert J. Myers Fund fellowship in collaboration with Asha Castleberry, professor of political studies at Fordham University and defense council associate at the Truman National Security Project. The fund, established by the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs in 2014, supports a range of activities concerned with engaging local communities in a collaborative exploration of how universal moral values compete with local claims and practices.
“I’m very excited to collaborate with Asha on this venture and engage veterans’ communities through the Robert J. Myers Fund,” says Mateo.
Mateo and Castleberry will use the Myers fellowship to research how populism has impacted ethics and leadership in the U.S. military and veterans’ communities. They will conduct focus groups and individual interviews with military officials and members of veterans’ groups in the greater New York City area, Washington, D.C., and Texas. As a result of their findings, they hope to raise awareness of military ethics and leadership in the context of public decision making; engage veterans and military officials with community members, especially undergraduates studying international relations and/or national security and U.S. foreign policy; and provide best practices for U.S. civil–military relations.
Upon completion of their research, Mateo and Castleberry hope to communicate their findings via the Carnegie Council’s podcast and provide a written resource that can be shared for educational purposes. They also plan on hosting an event for veterans at the D.C. headquarters of the Truman National Security Project and engaging college students around their research topic.
The Bard Debate Union ended a stellar season on a high note, with its best national championship performance in program history. Hosted by Stanford University, this year’s nationals welcomed over 230 two-person teams from more than 40 colleges and universities from across the country. Nathaniel Carlsen ’18 and Hannah Hutchinson ’19 ended the tournament as octafinalists, tying for 17th place overall, after debating in an octafinal round about whether or not the International Monetary Fund should pay reparations for past wrongs. Meanwhile, the first-year team of Hadley Parum ’21 and Gordon Stearns ’21 advanced through novice quarterfinals and semifinals, ending the tournament tied for second-place novice team in the country, after debating in an all-star novice final round against teams from Columbia University, Yale University, and the University of Chicago on the topic of the ethics of having children in the 21st century.
During their 2017–18 season, the Bard team attended 12 tournaments in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Russia. In addition to many individual speaker awards, the Bard Debate Union won three tournaments as a team, including the season opener at the University of Rochester, the George Washington Inter-Varsity Tournament, and the North American Women’s and Gender Minorities Debate Championship at the University of Vermont. The team advanced to top elimination rounds at six other tournaments, including those at Hart House in Toronto, Yale, University of Vermont, Cornell University, King’s College, and Smolny College in St. Petersburg, Russia. Bard College also hosted four public debates on its Annandale-on-Hudson campus. There was a Hannah Arendt Center debate with the United States Military Academy at West Point on the resolution “Resolved: representative democracy has failed,” a Family Weekend Roundtable on “Trump and American Foreign Policy,” a Martin Luther King Day Civic Engagement Debate on political protest and civil disobedience, and a Spring Public Debate on bringing controversial speakers to college campuses.
Making connections with debate teams throughout the Bard Network—including Al-Quds Bard, American University of Central Asia (AUCA), Bard College Berlin (BCB), European Humanities University (EHU), and Smolny College—intranetwork online debates allowed teams to debate across continents in real time. The resolutions of this season’s two virtual debates were: “This house opposes the privatization of water” and “This house believes that governments should set up, support, and fund state-backed media organizations with the aim of providing impartial, balanced news.” Bard Debate Union Codirectors Ruth Zisman and David Register also organized and hosted the Second Bard Network Debate Conference at Smolny College this March, where they were joined by two students and one faculty/staff member from each of the Bard Network campuses (Al-Quds Bard, AUCA, BCB, EHU, and Smolny College) for two days of lectures, workshops, and debates, culminating in participation in the St. Petersburg Open Debate Tournament.
Inspiring and mentoring younger debaters, members of the Bard Debate Union continue to work with local school districts as well as the Bard Early Colleges to help create and build debate programs. This past November, the Bard team hosted a debate workshop for area high school students and teachers focused on starting debate clubs, recruitment, and debate training tools and skills. Then in March, the team hosted the Seventh Annual Middle and High School Debate Tournament, which involved four local high schools, two local middle schools, and seven Bard Early Colleges. The tournament covered three resolutions: “Individuals should be required to pass a civics test in order to vote”; “The United States Federal Government should provide no-cost higher education for all American citizens”; and “Artificial intelligence will do more harm than good.”
“We absolutely love hosting the middle and high school tournament each year,” says Zisman, “as this gives our students the opportunity to serve as teachers and mentors to younger students and to see the possibilities and powers of debate far beyond their own competitive success.”
Finally, David Register continues the work of building debate in the Bard Prison Initiative. The Bard Prison Initiative (BPI) Debate Union, now famous for defeating Harvard in a public debate in fall 2015, held two public debates this year, one against Morehouse College on race-based affirmative action and another against West Point on the nationalization of water resources. They were victorious in both of this year’s debates, bringing their overall win-loss record to 7–2.
“Overall,” says Ruth Zisman, “the Bard Debate Union is working to reconceptualize the role and function of debating on the college campus—to see debate as not only about competition and personal growth but also about civic engagement and global citizenship, about making connections, engaging our community, and working on the skills necessary to be leaders in the 21st century.”
More about international campuses in the Bard Network
More about the Bard Debate Union
|listings 1-6 of 6|