A panel of four elite Villanova University scholars participated in a discussion on “The Global and the Interdisciplinary: ‘Education and Privilege’” on Thursday, Oct. 1 at 4:30 p.m. in Falvey Memorial Library’s Speakers’ Corner. The panel, co-sponsored by The Global Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies and Falvey Memorial Library, determined the reasons why current issues of race and identity exist in society and also explored ways in which we can take action to challenge the status quo.
Panelists included Jerusha Conner, PhD, Department of Education and Counseling; Carol Anthony, MA, Center for Peace and Justice Education; Jill McCorkel, PhD, Department of Sociology and Criminology; and Bryan Crable, PhD, Department of Communication. Each panelist described their perspective on why issues of race and inequality persist and the steps we can take to make a difference.
To kick-off the panel discussion, Dr. Jerusha Conner discussed her approach the problem of race integration by utilizing her background in the field of education. She stressed the need to educate and empower students to be activists in order to initiate social change. In addition, Conner cited that a group of current Villanova students participate in a service partnership with inner-city schools. By going to the core of the problem, she believes that the students are able to take action and promote change.
Dr. Jill McCorkel, who actively studies the inequalities that exist in the U.S. prison system, emphasized that a vicious cycle exists for students who come from lower-income families; they tend to go from school directly to prison. Dr. McCorkel called it a “school to prison pipeline.” She believes people from certain groups are considered scapegoats and are unfairly treated. The privileged don’t always recognize this inequality. In addition, Dr. McCorkel cited her belief that forms of punishment are connected with our racial history and recommends that we explore the ways that this connection resonates with other countries.
Examining the problem from a social justice perspective, Professor Carol Anthony discussed the need to question the ways we rationalize the morality of conditions in our society. She stressed reasons we should question our justification of violence and inequality as the norm.
Dr. Bryan Crable, an expert in the study of rhetorical theory, talked about race, identity, power and privilege, utilizing his background in the study of communication. He discussed his close examination of the relationship between Kenneth Burke and Ralph Ellison, two influential American writers. Dr. Crable views this relationship as a reflection of the racial divide that still clearly exists in society.
So, what steps can we take to successfully integrate all members of society? How do we avoid reinforcing the ever-present racial divide? The panelists agreed that we do a lot as a community, but that we are capable of doing much, much more. Some solutions include providing prison inmates with education, hiring more diverse students and faculty, and presenting more opportunities to students who come from lower-income families with more attention given to how racial diversity is presented in schools. It is also important to continue to be open to learning and make a conscious effort to self-educate. They believe that with knowledge we are better suited to tackle this problem.
Next up in the Reading Villanova series: Amy Way, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Communication; Chiji Akoma, PhD, associate professor, Department of English; and Catherine Warrick, PhD, associate professor, Department of Political Science will present on “The Global and the Interdisciplinary ‘Gender and Imperialism’” on Tuesday, Oct. 27 at 4:30 p.m. in Speakers’ Corner of Falvey Memorial. Be sure to join us!
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