Critical Connections convenes timely panel discussions, dialogues, and workshops across the Connecticut River Valley with our partner Karuna Center for Peacebuilding.
TRANSFORMING THIS MOMENT 2018:
Examining our collective responsibility
Last year, our Transforming this Moment series responded to the increasing polarization that affected our country in the wake of a contentious presidential election--we examined the underlying causes of the various divides that fracture our communities and ended the year with launching our 'Building Inclusive Communities' series. The first event in the series explored the critical role of faith leaders in creating inclusion within their congregations and in the broader community. We will continue to examine the role of various public sector officials in creating diverse and pluralistic communities and will convene two more symposia this year.
In 2018, we will continue with our Transforming this Moment series with a focus on raising awareness around discriminatory policies and societal trends that erode our social and political fabric. In particular, we shall focus on the following themes as they relate to American-Muslim communities and other minority groups:
- National Security
- Civil Rights and Liberties
- U.S. foreign policy in the Muslim world
- Cultural/Religious Divides
- Inclusion and diversity
Our aim, as always, will be to help create communities that are informed and empowered against the forces that seek to divide us. We hope you will join us in 2018 with greater resolve and resilience.
We will begin the new year with a conversation with constitutional law expert, Professor Sudha Setty, on the perils of government secrecy in matters of national security and counterterrorism.
NATIONAL SECURITY SECRECY IN THE AGE OF TRUMP
TUESDAY, JANUARY 30, 7-9PM
JONES LIBRARY, 43 AMITY STREET, AMHERST
Since 9/11, successive U.S. administrations have kept Americans in the dark about controversial and sometimes illegal counterterrorism programs. Many of these policies are pursued in the name of national security without much regard for transparency and oversight. As the government becomes increasingly more secret in matters of national security, it has correspondingly sought to undermine the right to privacy of Americans through widespread surveillance and wiretapping programs. In 2018, as the Trump administration doubles down on its national security strategy, how do we ensure the rights of all Americans are protected? How can we hold the government accountable when it resists oversight and transparency? How should we understand the tradeoff between security and privacy? What models do other democracies offer to guarantee government accountability and the rule of law when it comes to national security? Join us on January 30 to hear constitutional law expert, Sudha Setty, unpack this complex issue and discuss her new book, National Security Secrecy: Comparative Effects on Democracy and the Rule of Law (Cambridge University Press, 2017)
THE #METOO MOVEMENT AND MINORITY VOICES
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 7-9PM
VENUE: FRIENDS MEETING HOUSE
43 CENTER STREET, NORTHAMPTON, MA
At a time of national reckoning and accountability around sexual harassment, how are women of color experiencing this moment? What are the opportunities and challenges for minority women to speak out against sexual harassment both historically and as part of the #MeToo movement? What are the underlying causes of misogyny in American culture and what are the legal, political, and social shifts required to address the prevalence of sexual harassment in society? Join us in February to hear Professor Shaheen Pasha (Department of Journalism, UMass Amherst) and Gina Beavers (Arts and Culture Editor, The Valley Advocate) speak on this critical issue.
Shaheen Pasha is an educator and journalist who joined the faculty at UMass in January 2013. She previously worked as the Middle East Regional Editor for The Brief, a legal magazine published by Thomson Reuters. Prior to launching the magazine, Pasha was the Islamic finance correspondent at Thomson Reuters, based in Dubai. She has worked at CNNMoney.com as a banking and legal reporter, covering the Supreme Court and the Enron trial. Pasha was also a reporter at Dow Jones Newswires, where she had a daily column in the Wall Street Journal and appeared as a regular correspondent on CNBC Asia, covering the ADR market. She taught print and online journalism for undergraduate and graduate students at The American University in Cairo and media writing at Pace University in New York.
Pasha is the co-editor of Mirror on the Veil: A Collection of Personal Essays on Hijab and Veiling, published by Critical, Cultural and Communications Press (2017) and is a contributor to The Dallas Morning News, New England Public Radio, USA Today, Daily Beast and Quartz, among other news outlets. Her areas of focus include international journalism, Islam and religion, business reporting, and mass incarceration issues. She has a master's degree in journalism from Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and a bachelor's degree in speech communication from Pace University.
Raised in Northern Ohio, Gina Beavers earned her B.A. and M.A. in American History at the Universities of Pittsburgh and Massachusetts Amherst respectively. She is the Arts and Culture Editor at the Valley Advocate newspaper and serves on the steering committee of the Springfield Central Cultural District. Ms. Beavers is a writer, painter and a graphic artist; she has been a part of the Western Mass artscape for twenty years and her work has been widely exhibited and can be found in homes throughout Greater Springfield, the Northeast, California and even South Africa. MS. Beavers has been commissioned to do countless paintings and graphic designs. She has also created commissioned public art projects in Springfield. Ms. Beavers illustrated the children's book Coota and the Magic Quilt and the covers of The Practice of Power: Finding Success in a Diverse World by Tom and Janine Fondon and I Am: Renewal from Within the Garden by Lucie K. Lewis.
U.S. FOREIGN POLICY IN THE MIDDLE EAST: TRENDS AND TRAJECTORIES IN THE TRUMP ERA
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4, 7-9PM
VENUE: BANGS COMMUNITY CENTER, AMHERST, MA
A year into the Trump presidency, we hope to explore the broad contours of the administration's approach to the Middle East and understand what the next few years will look in terms of U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia and Iran, approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the U.S. role in Syria, counterterrorism operations, etc. We will also examine how U.S. foreign policy towards the Middle East has been shaped over the decades and its impact on the way ordinary Americans perceive the region and the broader Muslim world. What must we as citizens know about our shifting diplomatic position in order to keep our government accountable? To better understand the current direction of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, join us for a conversation with UMass Professor David Mednicoff and Professor Osamah Khalil, Syracuse University.
David Mednicoff is Director, Middle Eastern Studies and Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. His research deals with broad connections between legal and political ideas and institutions at the national and transnational levels, particularly as these relate to current issues in the Middle East. His articles and book chapters analyze the rule of law, human rights issues, Western legal aid, US policy, migrant worker law and policy, political liberalization and constitutionalism in the Middle East, especially Morocco, Qatar, Tunisia and the UAE. He is currently completing two book manuscripts on the politics of the rule of law in five Arab societies.
Osamah Khalil is an Associate Professor of History at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. He is currently serving as the Interim Director of Syracuse’s Middle Eastern Studies Program. Khalil is the author of America’s Dream Palace: Middle East Expertise and the Rise of the National Security State (Harvard University Press, 2016), which was named by Foreign Affairs as a Best Book of 2017. He has been a frequent media commentator and contributor, including for the Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Hill, Al Akhbar, The National, and Al Jazeera.
COMBATANTS FOR PEACE - A CONVERSATION WITH PALESTINIAN AND ISRAELI ACTIVISTS
SUNDAY, APRIL 22, 4-7PM
VENUE: ISWM, 377 AMOSTOWN, WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA
Combatants for Peace (CfP), founded in 2006, is a non-profit, volunteer organization of ex-combatant Israelis and Palestinians, men and women, who have laid down their weapons and rejected all means of violence. Their mission is to build the social infrastructure necessary for ending the occupation and conflict. They work together toward this goal of bringing justice and peace to the land, demonstrating that there is a real alternative to the cycle of violence and that Palestinians and Israelis can work and live together. They believe that disseminating such activities widely can and will affect attitudinal change at the societal level and policy change at the political level. Hear their powerful story on April 22nd at the Islamic Society of Western Massachusetts (ISWM)
BUILDING INCLUSIVE COMMUNITIES: IMPROVING COMMUNITY-POLICE RELATIONS
FRIDAY, MAY 25, 9-3PM
VENUE: HOLYOKE COMMUNITY COLLEGE, HOLYOKE, MA
Join us this spring for a full-day symposium that will explore the structural, institutional and societal shifts necessary to improve relations between local/federal law-enforcement agencies and communities of color. Stay tuned for more details.
TRANSFORMING THIS MOMENT SERIES - 2017
While the immediate post-election period was a time of deep uncertainty for vulnerable communities across the country, it was also a moment of intense mobilization. Concerned citizens and groups galvanized for positive change and rallied together to protect the rights of their compatriots. In this context, Critical Connections and the Karuna Center for Peacebuilding launched the ‘Transforming This Moment’ series with two distinct tracks:
- Transforming this Moment: Protecting Civil Rights, Promoting Civic Engagement
- Transforming this Moment: Bridging our Divides.
The Transforming this Moment Series is convened in partnership with the Karuna Center for Peacebuilding and is sponsored by Mass Humanities, whose grants inspire considered thought, conversation, and action.
BUILDING INCLUSIVE COMMUNITIES: THE ROLE OF FAITH COMMUNITIES
Friday, December 8, 2017
Kittredge Center, Holyoke Community College, Holyoke, MA
How can faith leaders address racism, homophobia and religious intolerance within their communities? What are the challenges and opportunities they grapple with to promote inclusion and diversity, and what are effective strategies to develop empathy and understanding?
A sampling of our events in 2017:
from political polarization to dialogue
Americans are more divided than at any time since the Civil War and conventional approaches to reconciliation seem inadequate. How should ordinary citizens approach seemingly intractable political divides in our country? Is it possible to promote social justice without contributing to the current polarization? Professor Peter Coleman, who has devoted his career to analyzing protracted conflict, joined us on October 19 to share the lessons that his interdisciplinary research can shed on our “political polar vortex” and also describe opportunities that can emerge from the current political crisis.
from radicalization to reform
the rise of white nationalism
civil rights in the age of trump
There are many questions and concerns surrounding the future of civil rights under the Trump administration. What are the prospects of a Muslim registry? What will be the future of marriage equality? Will refugees and immigrants have their status rescinded? Can Roe v. Wade be overturned? Will stop-and-frisk be enacted nationwide? Will there be a shift in the system of checks and balances? What protections does our constitution afford and what recourse is available to targeted communities? For an in-depth analysis of these issues and more, Professor Sudha Setty of Western New England University School of Law joined us in Amherst on January 25
SAMPLING OF EVENTS (2013-2016)