Current News and Notes
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The Center for Civic Engagement has a new webpage devoted entirely to our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. From virtual volunteer opportunities to helpful links and resources to contact information for local and state elected officials, we're publishing important information so you can easily find ways to connect, engage, and take action during this time.
In this uncertain moment, it's nice to hear some good news. This issue of the Clemente Quarterly offers plenty: a film about Clemente, high honors for Bard College, and an alum who has taken his first courses at Harvard.
Read on for more in our Winter 2020 Clemente Quarterly.
By Faith Palmer Fotta
As the Coronavirus continues on its path we want to share some steps the town of Red Hook, Dutchess County, and New York State are taking to support community members in both monitoring the situation and providing information and resources that may be helpful for residents.
Dutchess County's Department of Behavioral and Community Health’s updates:
New York State Department of Health:
Centers for Disease Control:
The Dutchess County Department of Behavioral and Community Health is charged with the prevention and control of communicable disease and is the local point of contact for Covid-19. The DCDBCH is monitoring the situation and will adjust strategies as the disease in the community evolves. An informational hotline number was established and is now taking calls at 856 486 -3555.
The NYS Health Department has issued a clinical guidance website for healthcare providers that host readiness webinars for hospitals, local health department, college, and university medical professionals.
According to Dr. Howard Zucker, the New York State Health Commissioner, "this virus is being carefully monitored at federal, state and city levels to ensure the public's health and safety, and while awareness is important, the current risk to New Yorkers is low. We are working closely with the Centers for Disease Control to receive daily updates and stand ready to assist."
New York State Governor Mario Cuomo has issued information on a comprehensive plan to address school closings if a child falls ill and/or tests positive for the virus. Cuomo has unveiled a plan for New York to produce its own hand sanitizer. The sanitizer, which is projected to cost $6 a gallon to make, will be distributed for free to schools, local governments, and health care facilities in need. The Governor has passed legislation regarding sanitizing protocols for public transport, nursing homes, and schools.
Gov. Cuomo has sent an expedited bill to the legislature that would guarantee paid sick leave to New Yorkers placed on quarantine due to the Coronavirus.
Due to the consistently changing nature of the virus and the need for institutions and response teams to adapt, the information is always evolving. Therefore, it is important to stay in tune with trusted sources. One very valuable resource is right here on the Bard website.
Take good care of yourselves and remember, " Keep Calm and Wash Your Hands"
Want to get involved in our effort to host more civics education or events? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have questions about civics or suggestions about what you would like to see in this space, email email@example.com. We're interested in what you think. Watch for more information in the coming weeks, and stay engaged!
Bard College and Foreign Policy Interrupted (FPI), in cooperation with the Open Society University Network (OSUN), announce the launch of the FPI-Bard Fellowship. The FPI-Bard Fellowship is for midcareer women in foreign policy who are eager to share their expertise and engage in policy discussions.
The fellowship is a six-week online workshop that covers such topics as op-ed writing, media training, editorial story pitching, and public speaking. It is intended for women over 30 in the middle of their careers in international relations, finance and investing, technology, foreign policy, or national security. There are five slots for the FPI-Bard Fellowship, which will take applications through Friday, April 3. Interviews will be conducted mid-April. Final decisions will be made by May 1.
FPI started the fellowship in 2014 and has trained over 40 women, across a wide range of areas, including cybersecurity, Asian defense, conflict resolution, science, and technology. Previous FPI Fellows have been published in the Washington Post, Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, the New Republic, and the New York Times.
“I’m thrilled to partner with Bard College and the OSUN network on an expanded version of the fellowship program,” said FPI cofounder and CEO Elmira Bayrasli. “Bard and OSUN’s global reach and focus on building community and creating value makes it the right partner.” Bayrasli was named director of the Bard Globalization and International Affairs Program (BGIA) in January.
“This is a fellowship for women around the world, from different backgrounds and disciplines. Bard and OSUN provide wonderful networks to help FPI reach more talented women whose voices and expertise can only add value to today’s pressing challenges,” said Jonathan Becker, executive vice president of Bard College and vice chancellor of OSUN.
For information about applying for an FPI-Bard Fellowship, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Friday, February 28, the Bard Debate Union together with the Center for Civic Engagement hosted the Ninth Annual Middle and High School Debate Tournament at Bard. The tournament was the largest it has ever been, welcoming over 150 students, teachers, and parents from schools in Red Hook, Rhinebeck, Poughkeepsie, Arlington, Cold Spring, Garrison, and Dover.
The three topics up for debate, all drawn from this year's World Universities Debating Championship, were: abolishing the Olympic Games, whether news platforms should be required to uphold BBC–style impartiality, and the pros and cons of social credit systems. The students had been researching and preparing for their debates for nearly two months. At Bard, each of the three debates were judged by panels of Bard Debate Union members and teachers and coaches from the participating schools. At the end of the day, top speakers and teams were announced, with the winning high school team from Poughkeepsie High School and the winning middle school team from the Manitou School.
"As always," says Co-Director of the Bard Debate Union Ruth Zisman, "the middle and high school tournament is our favorite day of the year. Not only does it give us all a chance to remember the excitement and power of debate by watching people do it for the first time, but it gives us an opportunity to connect with debaters and educators from all over the Hudson Valley for an exciting day of open discourse and conversation."
Since 2012, when the tournament first took place, the Bard Debate Union has worked tirelessly to help foster the development and growth of debate programs all over the world, often in unlikely places: in 10 local school districts, three New York State Prisons, seven Bard Early Colleges and Early College Centers, and five international partner institutions from Kyrgyzstan to Russia to Palestine. For the Bard Debate Union, debate is about much more than just competition; it is about opening space for important and difficult conversations, connecting with the community both locally and globally, and helping to empower the young leaders we need in the 21st century.
The Middle and High School Debate Tournament was only the beginning of a big weekend for the Bard Debate Union. Bard students went on to win the Empire Debates at the King's College in New York City the next day, Saturday, February 29. Read that story here.
Upcoming events for the Bard Debate Union include:
Mar 15–20: Fourth Bard Network Debate Conference at Central European University (Budapest, Hungary)
Mar 27–29: North American Women and Gender Minorities Debating Championship (Rochester, New York)
Apr 18–20: US Universities Debating Championship (Chicago, Illinois)
May 1: Bard Prison Initiative Public-Style Debate (Eastern New York Correctional Facility)
May 9: Bard Early College Debate Tournament (Bard High School Early College Newark)
The Bard Debate Union won the 9th Annual Empire Debates at the King's College in New York City on Saturday, February 29 and Sunday, March 1. The tournament—an annual favorite for the Bard Debate Union—welcomes college and university debate teams from throughout the United States. All participants debated in five preliminary debates on topics ranging from the reunification of Northern Ireland to the use of state travel bans to the celebritization of political figures. Top placing teams advanced to a semifinal and then final round.
After a very close final round against teams from McGill, Morehouse, and Vanderbilt, Bard Debate Union members Gwen Stearns '21 and Pascal O'Neill '23 were named champions of the tournament. Hadley Parum '21 and Elaina Taylor '20 were semifinalists. The team also won a number of speaker and judge awards: Gwen Stearns '21 was Fourth Open Speaker, Matt Caito '20 placed 10th Open Speaker, Pascal O'Neill '23 was named Third Novice Speaker, Dalia Alayassa (PIE student from Al-Quds Bard, currently studying at BGIA) was Second ESL Speaker, and Rayo Verweij '20 advanced as a judge. An outstanding showing by the entire team.
The Debate Union's victory was the second act in a big weekend for the team. The day before, they had hosted the largest-yet Middle and High School Debate Tournament on the Bard campus. Read that story here.
Chandrai Jackson-Saunders, school psychologist at Bard High School Early College in Washington, DC, has been named School Psychologist of the Year. She accepted the award at the National Association of School Psychologists Annual Convention in Baltimore on February 19.
“I advocate prevention over trauma,” says Jackson-Saunders. “This includes a focus on social-emotional learning; parental engagement; and community partnerships. School psychologists are really good at trauma. I want us to be great at prevention. This will require not only psychologists, but educational systems and the community caring for our children to focus on creating a positive environment on the front end with the goal of reducing the amount of trauma on the back end.”
Chandrai Jackson-Saunders has served as a school psychologist in the District of Columbia Public School System for more than 30 years. Born in Hawkinsville, Georgia, Jackson-Saunders was raised primarily in Washington, DC. She is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown with an undergraduate degree in psychology, and of Howard University with graduate degrees in educational psychology and school psychology. Chandrai Jackson-Saunders is a staunch advocate for children’s welfare and works extensively with community and social organizations both locally and nationally.
On Saturday, February 22, Bard College students organized a concert in Olin Hall to benefit the fight against COVID-19, the novel coronavirus first discovered in China that has caused the World Health Organization to declare a global health emergency.
The benefit concert is part of an ongoing fundraising effort by students around the COVID-19 outbreak. Ahead of the concert, Bard student leaders collaborated with students from Vassar College, Colby College, and Oberlin College, with the help of the Cleveland Clinic and John Hopkins University Alumni, to raise more than $12,000. These funds purchased medical supplies, including disposable surgical masks, goggles, and protective clothing for medical workers, all of which were sent to a hospital in China’s Hubei Province.
Student volunteers organized the benefit concert at Bard with support from the Bard Chinese Student Organization, the Center for Civic Engagement, and the Bard College Conservatory of Music. The aim of the event was to raise additional funds for China and increase awareness about the impacts of the outbreak. The concert was free, but the hosts encouraged attendees to give online or to place donations in decorated boxes around the hall.
The event began with comments by Bard student organizers Caroline (Ziyue) He '23 and Zongheng Zhang '21. Caroline He, an anthropology major at Bard, described the outbreak in China and the danger to health care workers and the population in general. She went on to describe discrimination faced by Asians and Asian Americans in the wake of the epidemic. "Fear is our instinct. The way we conquer it and empower ourselves is to take responsibility, no matter how big or small," she told the audience. "Our responsibility is to resist. When society doesn’t encourage us to build real connections, it is a kind of solidarity and resistance that we keep reaching out to each other, and build friendships. [...] It’s not about nationality; it’s not about skin color; it’s not about gender. What matters is that we care, and we stand together. We support each other."
Bard College President Leon Botstein also offered remarks. "A virus is a virus. It does not discriminate among humans, and neither should we," said President Botstein. "Coronavirus has had devastating impacts in China. This concert is an important opportunity to be in solidarity with our Chinese students and colleagues."
Zongheng Zhang, a Bard Conservatory student, organized the evening's music program and conducted the orchestral portion of the concert. He is pursuing a double degree in music and psychology, while also taking graduate conducting courses in the Conservatory. Bard College Conservatory of Music students performed the following program:
The concert concluded with Chinese students gathering in the audience in Olin to sing "Invisible Wings," a song by Angela Chang about finding hope and strength in the face of despair. Students put their arms around each other and some shed tears as their classmates sang.
Efforts during the concert and afterward have raised an additional $4,400 to date. These gifts benefit the Firefly Plan, an organization that purchases sanitary products and food for hospitals in the most affected regions.
Bard College student Sonita Alizada addressed the United Nations on Tuesday, February 11, 2020. Sonita is a rapper and a human rights activist from Afghanistan. She spoke movingly about how she was sold into child marriage twice, escaped, and went on to become an advocate for education for girls worldwide.
Sonita's family left Afghanistan for Iran when she was a girl, and lived in Iran for several years as undocumented refugees. During this time, Sonita began to make music to express her frustration and fear as her family began to discuss selling her as a child bride. "I was breaking the law in Iran at that time. And still now women are not allowed to sing or rap solo," she explains. "Honestly, back then I knew the law, but I felt like my dreams were bigger than the fears that I had from police."
She met the Iranian filmmaker Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami, who helped Sonita make a music video for her song "Brides for Sale," which went viral and called attention to Sonita and the plight of many Afghan girls. Maghami made a documentary about Sonita's struggle to escape child marriage, Sonita, which was released by New Wave Films in 2016. Sonita won the World Documentary Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, as well as the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the IDFA Amsterdam Film Festival. With support from Maghami, the True Life Fund, and the Strongheart Group, Sonita was able to move to the United States, complete her secondary education, and continue to college.
Sonita was taking English language classes at American University in Washington, D.C. when a friend told her about Bard. "I felt like this would be the best place for me, because I like a close connection with my professors. So when I came here I realized that professors here, they were supportive, students were diverse, and it’s been—I really like it here and am happy with the decision that I made because they're not only supporting my education; they also support me with my advocacy work, which is very important."
Sonita is taking classes in human rights and international studies at Bard. "I'm taking First-Year Seminar, of course. I loved Mary Shelley's Frankenstein—not so much Darwin!" She enjoys working with other Bard students who are English language learners. Denise Minin, the English language program coordinator at the Learning Commons, has become a friend and an advocate to Sonita. She continues to write music and perform, regularly booking the recording studios on campus so she can work on her first album.
Sometimes, her music and her advocacy work have her studying on the train or in a hotel before an event. "I usually have some time before the performance or before the speech, so I do my homework in between," she explains.
These days, Sonita misses her family. "I didn’t tell my family when I came to the U.S. They wouldn’t have let me come here, so I basically ran away." Though her parents were initially angry, seeing Sonita's success with music and school has changed their way of thinking. "Right now they are my biggest fans," she says. Her sister rejected a marriage prospect, and their parents didn't force her. The transformation Sonita has seen in her own family gives her hope.
They understand that a girl can actually support herself. My mother, she thought I had no chance of saving myself, because they always think that we have to marry a guy, and only the guy can take care of us. So now it’s proven to her that girls are strong, they can make their own decisions, they can support themselves, they can also support others. It took a long time. It’s not that easy. But I’m just saying that change is possible even in families, Afghan families that are very conservative. They just follow old traditions. But for my mother to change that much, it was very shocking for me. I felt like if I can change my mom, if I can change my family, I can change other families, too, to think about their girls, to see that there are other possibilities for their girls other than just being mothers while they are children.Sonita has been nominated for a Women Building Peace Award, as presented by the United States Institute of Peace. The award honors a woman peacebuilder whose substantial and practical contribution to peace is an inspiration and guiding light for future women peacebuilders. Sonita will find out the results over the summer.
Sonita has a busy semester shaping up. In addition to coursework and her album, she's started to write a book about her life. She's looking forward to performing at a Human Rights Watch event in San Francisco next month. She will also likely be speaking at the UN again in March, on behalf of the organization Girls Not Brides.
She continues to push to address the root causes of child marriage—poverty and lack of education—and to advocate for local people to take the lead in reform in their own countries. "The problem with some organizations is that they come from the U.S., they come from other countries, to a country like Afghanistan, but they don't really understand the root of this problem," she observes. "You can't just fight with your ideology against their culture. So they need to ask leaders from their communities to help them with what changes they want to bring." Organizations need to not only support the girls, she explains, but also educate the parents.
Sonita finds that her roles as a college student and public figure exist in harmony. "There are so many courses here that talk about human rights," she observes. "The students here are very engaged with human rights and helping the environment—with everything. My friends, they're very supportive of girls’ education. So whatever I do most of the time they’re like, 'This is kind of what we do.' They are doing projects, too. We're doing the same kind of work, I just do it somewhere else." She describes her friends working on civic engagement projects and volunteering, then laughs, "I find them more active than me sometimes."
Brothers at Bard cofounders and Class of 2017 alumni Harry Johnson and Dariel Vasquez have been named among the 40 Under 40 Movers and Shakers by the Dutchess County Chamber of Commerce. The awards are given annually to 40 individuals under the age of 40 who have shown a strong commitment to the Hudson Valley. The awards ceremony, which is open to the public, is a celebration of these individuals and their accomplishments. It will take place on Thursday, April 2, at 5:00 at the Changepoint Theater in Poughkeepsie. Johnson and Vasquez, both sociology majors, founded Brothers at Bard as students, and the initiative has grown into a full-fledged program of Bard College. Brothers at Bard provides support for young men of color on campus and Bard alumni of color, and coordinates a successful mentoring program for high school students in Kingston and throughout New York City. Brothers at Bard is a leader in the national conversation about tapping into the potential of young men of color, recognizing their leadership, and supporting them as they pursue higher education and career success.
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’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 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 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.”
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.
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.
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.
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