Social Justice Lecture Series

In 2014 the Department of Sociology and Corrections began the Social Justice Lecture Series. It is now hosted as a collaboration between the Department of Sociology and Corrections and the Kessel Peace Institute. Each year we organize three to four lectures, panels, and/or workshops. The lecture series brings to Minnesota State Mankato speakers who are not only experts in their field, but who also go above and beyond to connect their work or scholarship to promoting social justice. We are especially grateful to the Steck family for helping to support the series.

For each talk we seek to partner with other MNSU departments, student groups, and community organizations. If you would like to get emails about future talks in the series or would like to collaborate to put together a future lecture or workshop, please contact Dr. Carol Glasser.

Upcoming Talks

To be announced soon.

Past Talks

Words into Deeds: Making the Leap from Academics to Action with Yurie Hong

Education is a cornerstone of our democracy. In order for government of, for, and by the people to function, the people must be able to think critically and engage in deliberative decision-making. While academia provides many opportunities for developing these crucial analytical and communication skills, it can be challenging to translate these skills into real action. How do we use our voices, our abilities, and our talents to participate in the public sphere and bring about the kinds of changes we’d like to see in the world? By detailing her own path to a life of activism within academia, Prof. Hong will demystify what it can look like to bridge the gap between a life of the mind and a life of engaged action.

Speaker: Dr. Yurie Hong, associate professor at Gustavus Adolphus College in the department of Classics and Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies. Dr. Hong is also the founder and lead organizer with indivisible of St. Peter and Mankato.

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Factory Farming in Minnesota: time for a Change?
Tim Culver, Sonja Trom Eayrs, Jeff Johnson, Chris Petersen

A panel discussion about the social justice, environmental, and animal welfare impacts of factory farming in Minnesota.The 40 minute panel discussion is followed by a 45 minute Question and Answer session in which panelists answer audience questions.

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Panelists: Sonja Trom Eayrs (Lawyer and Farmer’s Daughter), Jeff Johnson (Philosophy, St. Catherine University), and Chris Petersen (Family Pig Farmer and SRAP Associate), Tim Culver (Attorney & Legal Fellow with the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy)

Event co-sponsors: Library Services, the Kessel Peace Institute, Protecting Animal Rights Committee (PARC), Department of Sociology and Corrections

Changing the World without having a clue
Greg Bennick

As the Seattle Times shared recently, Greg Bennick “just does it”. A human and social rights activist for over twenty years, Greg’s ideas about “Changing the World Without Having a Clue” have led him to form One Hundred For Haiti, a non-profit based out of Seattle which works nonstop on development programs in Haiti relating to water quality and also anti-violence initiatives. For our students, he will be leading a keynote presentation on his efforts to change the world without having a clearly defined plan before him when he started. All too often we second guess ourselves and give up before we’ve even begun. Greg will explain how an approach of “Ready...FIRE...Aim” far supersedes the more traditional “Ready...aim…fire” approach to trying new things and to getting tasks accomplished. The presentation will be 45 minutes in length followed by a 15 minute question and answer session. Greg Bennick also hosted a workshop.

Speaker bio: Greg is the founder of One Hundred For Haiti and has been to Haiti eight times since the earthquake. Immediately after the January 12th earthquake in Haiti, Greg was on the crew of the Liberty Schooner, an all-volunteer mission that sailed from Miami to the southern coast of Haiti to bring 10,000 pounds of medical supplies and food to the people in most dire need. Greg is also the co-founder of The World Leaders Project, co-producer of the multi-award winning documentary “Flight From Death: The Quest for Immortality,” and was recently selected to be the official biographer of Pulitzer Prize winner Dr. Ernest Becker. He makes his living as a speaker and speaking coach and lives in Seattle WA.

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Event cosponsors: Department of Sociology and Corrections, Kessel Peace Institute

Pursuits for Peace in Palestine
Maria Filippone, Mnar Muhawesh, Ilana Rossoff

Video will be posted soon!

A panel discussion about Social Justice issues in Palestine

Panelists include: Maria Filippone, a physician, who will discuss her travels in January 2016 as part of a medical delegation to Gaza and the West Bank.

Mnar Muhawesh founder and editor in chief of MintPress News, will speak to her experiences living under Israeli occupation and apartheid as an American teenager, and how this shaped her career in journalism, and her work with MintPress News, an independent watchdog journalism startup.

Ilana Rossoff, Midwest Regional Organizer with Jewish Voice for Peace will discuss her experiences as an American Jewish activist working for justice for Palestinians, the current human rights crisis in Israel/Palestine, and the work of Jewish Voice for Peace.

Event co-sponsors, Department of Sociology and Corrections, Kessel Peace Institute, Sociology Club

Male Allies in Anti-Violence Activism
Dr. Kris Macomber

The fight to end domestic and sexual violence has historically been considered "women's work." Yet, this is changing, as men's involvement as allies and leaders in anti-violence activism expands across the globe. What are the benefits of this "male allies" development? What are the challenges it presents? Can men be leaders in gender-justice activism? This talk will address these critical questions and will provide insight into how this shift is impacting this historically women-led movement. Dr. Macomber also hosted a workshop.

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Event Co-Sponsors: Department of Sociology and Corrections, Department of Social Work, Library Services, Gender and Women's Studies Club, CADA, President’s Commission on the Status of Women, Women’s Center, Social Justice Lecture Series.

The Beginning and End of Rape: Sexual Violence in Indian Country
Sarah Deer

Professor Deer will speak to the issues of sexual violence in tribal communities. Native women experience the highest rates of violence in the nation, and the crisis has received national attention. Professor Deer’s presentation will begin with a historical legal analysis of violence against Native women – and provide specific examples of how grassroots activism has changed the scope of tribal jurisdiction.

Event Co-Sponsors: Department of Sociology and Corrections, Department of Social Work, Library Services, Gender and Women's Studies Club, CADA, President’s Commission on the Status of Women, Women’s Center, Social Justice Lecture Series.

Trans* Justice Film Screening and Workshop

Film Screening of TREASURE: For tragedy to Transjustice; mapping a Detroit story TREASURE, a feature documentary about nineteen year old Black trans woman Shelly ‘Treasure’ Hilliard whose murder involved police coercion, Jim Crow drug laws, the criminalization of sex work and transphobia. Following the film was a conversation and a Q& A session with activists Andrea Jenkins and Emani Love. Emani Love also hosted a workshop.

No Video available.

Event Co-Sponsors: Department of Sociology and Corrections, Department of Social Work, Library Services, Gender and Women's Studies Club, CADA, President’s Commission on the Status of Women, Women’s Center, Social Justice Lecture Series

Comics and Social Justice
David Gallaher

David will be lecturing on how he has used comics to help children with developmental difficulties learn how to read through context clues and discuss some of the philosophy behind this practice. In the second part of the lecture, he will discuss how comics (specifically superhero comics) compelled him to a life of service in Boy Scouts, the NYPD, teaching, and later supervising Baltimore's winter shelter program. His talk will conclude with how he uses the lessons from a life of service to promote social justice in the projects he currently writes.

Speaker Bio: David Gallaher has received multiple Harvey Award nominations and won The Best Online Comic Award for his work on High Moon. David was an early pioneer of digital comics developing projects for Marvel as well as Box 13 for ComiXology He is the writer and co-creator of the Harvey-nominated young adult series -- The Only Living Boy, and is represented by the Hill Nadell Agency. In addition to his work with his studio, Bottled Lightning, David has provided service to a broad range of pro-social programs including health initiatives for the NCAA, recruitment for the NYPD, and education services to Maryland Public School System.

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Date of Lecture: 10-21-2015

Event Co-sponsors: Department of Sociology and Corrections, Library Services The 410 Project

Secrets, Sexuality and Solutions in Sierra Leone: The Role FGM Plays in Shaping Lives in Modern West African Tribes
Nina Smart

This talk explores the human rights violation known as female genital mutilation (FGM) in the context of today's Sierra Leonean society. The role of women and men in protecting and perpetuating this harmful traditional practice is addressed in the complexity of this global issue, which is deeply experienced at the local level. Challenges faced by reformers and effective solutions to ameliorate this problem are presented to encourage participation in the process of ending FGM in Sierra Leone. The role of Ebola epidemics in reshaping locals' view about the FGM practice and international attention via INGOs conclude the talk.

Speaker Bio: Dr. Nina Smart is a human rights activist, sociologist, and author working to educate people about female genital mutilation (FGM) and to eradicate the practice in Sierra Leone. In her memoir, Wild Flower, Dr. Smart shares the story of her coming of age in a West African culture. During this time her father arranged to have her abducted and inducted into Bondo, the secret society for women that is a proud and ancient tradition in Sierra Leone. The initiation rite for the Bondo is FGM – Female Genital Mutilation.

In 2004, Dr. Smart founded Servicing Wild Flowers – SWF International, a Los Angeles based non-profit NGO that raises awareness about FGM through lectures and presentations for students and socially conscious groups. In 2012, Dr. Smart received her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California, Irvine. Her dissertation, “Resisting Polity Transmission from the Global to the Local - The Silence on the Glocalization of FGM in the Parliament of Sierra Leone,” provided a platform for her to attend parliamentary hearings and talk with diplomats in Sierra Leone about the practice of Secret Societies and FGM. Dr. Smart regularly speaks, gives media interviews and facilitates workshops on the topic of FGM.

Date of Lecture: 4-22-2015

Event Co-Sponsors: Minnesota State University, Mankato Sociology and Corrections Department, Minnesota State University Honors Program, Minnesota State University Ethnic Studies Department, Minnesota State University Department of Anthropology, Minnesota State University American Indigenous Studies

How Fair is Fair? Social Justice and the Fair Trade Movement
Mark Hudson and Mara Fridell

Does fair trade facilitate social justice? Mark Hudson and Mara Fridell, co-authors of Fair Trade, Sustainability, and Social Change, will discuss the potential of fair trade as a means of poverty alleviation, and as a means of revealing the people, relationships, and environments that lie behind the commodities we often unthinkingly consume. While contending that fair trade is well-positioned to help advance social justice goals, the authors highlight the limits of fair trade as a movement and a mechanism that is embedded in the market. Drawing on political economy and social movement theory, the talk will chart the recent trajectory of the fair trade movement, indicating its impressive success, as well as some troubling signs for the future of fair trade’s ability to realize its potential.

Speaker Bios: Dr. Mara Fridell is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Manitoba. Her research addresses political economy, organized elite politics, and comparative approaches to citizenship institutions and labor market politics and policies, in relation to the social movements, socio-economic innovations, and polity interventions organizing to expand equity and equality.

Dr. Mark Hudson is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Manitoba, and coordinator of the Global Political Economy Program. Beginning in 1997 with field work in Chiapas, Mexico, he has authored a number of articles and spoken widely on fair trade. Dr. Hudson’s research uses a political-economic lens to explore the interaction between human societies and their natural environments.

Date of Lecture: 3-17-2015

Event Co-Sponsors: Department of Sociology and Corrections, Sociology Club, Kessel Peace Institute, Library Services, Mavericks for Fair Trade, Mankato Area Fair Trade Town Initiative, and the Center for Earth Spirituality and Rural Ministry

Total Liberation
David Naguib Pellow

Dr. Pellow brings to light the violent relationship between humans and nonhuman animals within the ecosystems we share. Total Liberation is a shared vision within Animal Rights and Green movements to expand our knowledge and challenge the inequality brought forth by human action.

Speaker Bio: Dr. Pellow is a professor of Sociology at the University of Minnesota where he teaches classes on environmental justice, social movements, and globalization. He is the author of Resisting Global Toxics: Transnational Movements for Environmental Justice and Garbage Wars: The Struggle for Environmental Justice in Chicago.

Date of Lecture: 11-20-2014

Event Co-Sponsors: Department of Sociology and Corrections, Sociology Club and MNSU Animal Rights Concern