Bringing It

Bringing It #73: Art, Action, Intersections

November 02, 2021

Dear friends,

We hope this letter finds you well and enjoying fall. As you know, we recently welcomed a new digital media student intern to the BT2P team, and today we’re happy to share with you her reflection on a conference she recently attended at Elon University that centered around the theme “From Moments to Movements.” We also highlight and celebrate the work being done to build and support communities through the arts.

Student Voice: Intersect Conference

The Center for Leadership and the Center for Race, Ethnicity & Diversity Education at Elon University hosted its 10th annual Intersect Conference on Friday, October 1st and Saturday, October 2nd. With the collaboration of these two centers, there is an intersection between the ideals of leadership and diversity which provides the conference with its name. This year’s conference theme was “From Moments to Movements” and its emphasis was on the importance of taking action to enact social change. The conference provides a space where students, faculty, staff, and community members alike can partake in thoughtful discussions. The six sessions with a variety of educational speakers provided a broad range of topics for participants to engage in. Inspired by the four conference pillars of oppression, social change, power & privilege, and organizational development, the sessions worked together to foster the respect of human differences through conversation, reflection, and internalization.

I found the session “Incorporating Pedagogies of Discomfort in the Political Science Classroom” interesting, as it delved into the creation of classroom experiences that place students into positions of self-reflection. Presenting this session were five professors of Political Science from Elon University who discussed the ways in which each of them has incorporated pedagogies of discomfort in their classrooms. The nature of the political science major was articulated clearly by presenters, with an emphasis placed on the equity principles of social justice, critical analysis and theory, and call to action within its curriculum.

A presenter described the coalition simulation they utilize in one of their courses, during which students choose a social justice issue to focus on for the semester. The students are then given guided questions meant to place them into situations of self-scrutiny and discomfort to foster personal development. Strategies for well-informed learning were also relayed, such as being intentional with assigned readings and media and ensuring the diversity of such content. The importance of dissecting others’ ideas and not others’ personal characters was also emphasized, as the sharing of individual experiences to break down boundaries was encouraged. Another presenter expressed how they model themself being uncomfortable in the classroom to inspire the same vulnerability from students, emphasizing that if you are comfortable, you are not learning. The importance of training was noted, as students are molded by those who inform them. By engaging in classrooms with a focus on openness and self-reflection, students can absorb more diverse knowledge of the world around them to utilize post-graduation. As a student pursuing a minor in Political Science, I found this session to be very indicative of the steps Elon University has taken to increase self-reflection. I find it very important to be open to the ideas of others in order to make informed decisions regarding personal thoughts and opinions.

Across each session and elaborated by the two keynote speakers, Gabrielle E. W. Carter and Nina Berglund were the ideals of the intersectionality of leadership and diversity in a global environment. Through engaging in such important conversations, I found that the diverse opinions of others can better shape our understanding of the world around us. In accordance with Elon University’s commitment to cultivating an environment of respect and community engagement, the Intersect Conference provides a collaborative space in which growth is fostered.

– Gianna, Digital Media Intern

Community, Art, and Action

Lately, we have enjoyed hearing from BT2P community members engaged in work that highlights the importance of the arts in community building. A long-time supporter and friend, Elaine Maimon, recently sent us her article “Art Can Transform Lives and Cities” that was published in The Philadelphia Citizen. In this article she not only shares information about Philidelphian murals and a month-long celebration of them, she also champions the arts (musical, theatrical, and visual) as an integral part of life and community. As we’ve lately shared with you in BI #72 and BI #70, some of our PLACE Collaboratory members have also been exploring the intersections of art, community building, and transformation. These conversations have been exciting and inspiring, and we look forward to hearing more about this work in the future. We’d also love to hear from you, dear reader, about what has been inspiring you or lifting you up.

With thanks for everything you do,
David, Kate, Kelly, Todd, & Gianna