Welcome back to the 255! We wish our students our best of luck as we now embark on the final stretch of the semester! In celebration of National Poetry Month, the 255 is bring you a special segment highlighting our favorite poets and writings. We hope that throughout this month you all take time to reflect on your favorite styles of poetry from classical to contemporary, in both written and oral traditions. For more information on how to celebrate National Poetry Month check out the source below brought to you by the Academy of American Poets. They have some awesome year-round project going on.

Academy of American Poets

Professor Jennifer Brown’s Featured Poem:

“Good Bones”

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.

– Maggie Smith

Professor Jerry William’s Featured Poem:

“St Judas”

When I went out to kill myself, I caught
A pack of hoodlums beating up a man.
Running to spare his suffering, I forgot
My name, my number, how my day began,
How soldiers milled around the garden stone
And sang amusing songs; how all that day
Their javelins measured crowds; how I alone
Bargained the proper coins, and slipped away.

Banished from heaven, I found this victim beaten,
Stripped, kneed, and left to cry. Dropping my rope
Aside, I ran, ignored the uniforms:
Then I remembered bread my flesh had eaten,
The kiss that ate my flesh. Flayed without hope,
I held the man for nothing in my arms.

– James Wright

HUMSOC Admin Alex Dill’s Featured Poem:

“An Old Cracked Tune”

My name is Solomon Levi,
the desert is my home,
my mother’s breast was thorny,
and father I had none.

The sands whispered, Be separate,
the stones taught me, Be hard.
I dance, for the joy of surviving,
on the edge of the road.

– Stanley Kunitz

We hope you enjoyed some of our favorite poems. What poetic themes and styles interest you? What about those poems hold meaning to you? What makes a poem memorable? These are all great reflective questions that we should consider throughout National Poetry Month. Whether it be reading a poem a day, reflecting on some of your favs, creating your own poetry, or actively participating in a poetry group, we wish you all a wonderful poetry month. Finally, as always, a brief reminder to be kind, stay safe, and stay hydrated and poetic!

Welcome back to the 255! We hope that all our students had a fun and relaxing spring break! Especially during these times, it is super important to practice self-care and consistently decompress and treat yourself. This week on the 255 we celebrate the conclusion of Women’s History Month with one last amazing woman that shattered the glass ceiling for women everywhere – Marie Curie! We highlight Marie Curie’s work to demonstrate the groundbreaking precedent she set for women in the sciences and we provide sources you can use to continue researching her amazing career. We also want to highlight some cross disciplinary brilliance and acknowledge National Poetry Month. What does Marie Curie have to do with poetry? Stay tuned to find out!

Marie Curie was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1867. She received a general education in local schools and some scientific training from her father. Marie Curie was involved involved in a students’ revolutionary organization and eventually found it necessary to leave Warsaw, fleeing oppressive Russian domination. She finished her schooling at the Sorbonne in Paris where she obtained Licentiateships in Physics and the Mathematical Scientists. Following the death of her husband, Pierre Curie in 1906, Curie took his place and became the Professor of General Physics in the Faculty of Sciences at Sorbonne, the first time a woman ever held this position.

Henri Becquerel’s discovery of radioactivity in 1896 inspired the Curies in their researches and analyses which led to the isolation of polonium and radium. Marie Curie developed methods for the separation of radium from radioactive residues in sufficient quantities to allow for its characterization and the careful study of its properties. Curie advocated for the use of radium to alleviate suffering during World War I and she devoted herself – alongside her daughter, Irene – to this remedial work. Marie Curie was held in high esteem and admiration by scientists throughout the world. She was a member of the Conseil du Physique Solvay from 1911 until her death and since 1922 she had been a member of the Committee of Intellectual Co-operation of the League of Nations.

The importance of Marie Curie’s work is reflected in the numerous awards bestowed on her. She received many honorary science, medicine, and law degrees and honorary memberships of learned societies throughout the world. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first and the only woman to win the Nobel Prize twice, and the only person to win the Nobel Prize in two scientific fields. Marie Curie’s contribution to the world of science not only was provided invaluable research into the discovery of polonium and radium but also established a glass-shattering precedent for all women around the world aspiring to enter the world of the sciences. To check out more information on the life of Marie Curie check out the following links below that give you fun articles, podcasts, and videos!

And now, we shift towards the poetic, in a curious and connected tangent. Adrienne Rich is one of America’s most respected poets. Born in Baltimore, MD in 1929, she grew up steeped in the intellectual ambitions of her father, who was a pathologist at Johns Hopkins. She excelled academically, and earned her degree from Radcliff University. She married and had 3 children, but her marriage began to fall apart as she became more politically aware in the 1960’s. She would later say that “the experience of motherhood was eventually to radicalize me.” This new understanding of her personal and political life began to show in her work. Beginning with Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law: Poems 1954-1962 (1963), Rich’s work has explored issues of identity, sexuality, and politics. Best known for her politically-engaged verse from the tumultuous Vietnam War period, Rich’s collection Diving into the Wreck: Poems 1971-1972 (1973) won the National Book Award. Rich accepted it with fellow-nominees Audre Lorde and Alice Walker on behalf of all women. In addition to the National Book Award, Rich received many awards and commendations for her work, including the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Lannan Lifetime Achievement Award, the Bollingen Prize, the Academy of American Poets Fellowship, and a MacArthur “Genius” Award. She made headlines in 1997 when she refused the National Medal of Arts for political reasons. You can read more about her prolific and thoughtful career here.

We are talking about Adrienne because of a poem she wrote in The Dream of a Common Language called “Power”.


Living in the earth-deposits of our history

Today a backhoe divulged out of a crumbling flank of earth
one bottle amber perfect a hundred-year-old
cure for fever or melancholy a tonic
for living on this earth in the winters of this climate.

Today I was reading about Marie Curie:
she must have known she suffered from radiation sickness
her body bombarded for years by the element
she had purified
It seems she denied to the end
the source of the cataracts on her eyes
the cracked and suppurating skin of her finger-ends
till she could no longer hold a test-tube or a pencil

She died a famous woman denying
her wounds
her wounds came from the same source as her power.

This poem is a beautiful tribute to Marie Curie, and illustrates the ways art and science can inspire and reinforce one another. Nature often provides artists with majestic subjects and interesting, clear metaphors. Here Rich uses radiation sickness and the images of amber, decaying earth and body, to comment on the emotional landscapes of women, and the lived experience of womanhood. You can read more about the poem, and hear it read aloud by author Cherly Strayed (who includes this poem in her memoir Wild, continuing the women inspiring women train!) here.

We hope you enjoyed our last segment in our Women’s History Month series. It is crucial to recognize the contribution of women like Marie Curie to the world of science and education, and to let them inspire us towards creation like Adrienne Rich! Although Women’s History month is coming to an end, we will keep highlighting the contributions made by women in all fields, and in poetry in particular though April. We hope you’ll take the time to read and write some poetry this month, and explore poets as yet unknown to you. As always stay safe, kind, hydrated and poetic!

Welcome back to the 255! As we approach spring break, we wish our students a nice and relaxing time away from the virtual classroom! This week on the 255, we continue to highlight Women’s History Month. This post features the amazing work of now Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland. While providing more information around Secretary Haaland’s historic confirmation, we are also taking this time to give more insights on sovereign tribal nations all around the United States. So grab your tea or coffee and get ready to jump right in to this segment of #AcademiaIRL.

Secretary Deb Haaland was confirmed by the Senate on March 15th, 2021 and became the first Native American to serve as a Cabinet Secretary. This is not the first time Secretary Haaland has shattered the glass ceiling. In 2014, she ran for Lieutenant Governor of New Mexico and became the first Native American woman to lead a state party. Secretary Haaland also served as the U.S. Representative for New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District from 2019-2021. Haaland is a 35th generation New Mexican and a member of the Pueblo of Laguna – a federally recognized tribe of the Native American Pueblo people in west-central New Mexico. During her tenure as a public official, Haaland has pioneered conversations and legislation concerning environmental justice, climate change, missing and murdered indigenous women, and family-friendly policies. Outside of public service, Haaland has managed and run her own small business producing and canning Pueblo Salsa, held a variety of tribal administrative positions at San Felipe Pueblo, and eventually became the first woman elected to the Lugana Development Corporation Board of Directors. Haaland holds a B.A. in English from the University of New Mexico (UNM) and later earned her J.D. from UNM Law School. Both in and out of public service, Secretary Haaland has demonstrated time and time again that she is a force to be reckoned with.

To learn more about Deb Haaland check out the links below:

The Pueblo of Laguna is just one of the many federally recognized tribes of Native American people in the United States. One of the problems that face many Native Americans today is the ignorance of the majority of the U.S. public regarding knowledge around the legal and political institutions of Native tribes and their sovereignty. It is easy to discredit the treaties between settler colonials and indigenous peoples as “a thing of the past.” However, many people fail to understand the contemporary relevance of those legally and politically binding treaties and documents, and to recognize the sovereignty of indigenous communities across the United States. Even Supreme Court cases acknowledge the existence of the three sovereign entities that make up the U.S.A – the federal government, state governments, and tribal governments. If you’re interested in learning about the relationship between tribunal governments and the state and federal systems, you can follow the links below.

Check out these sources to learn more about the sovereign tribes around the United States:

We send our support and congratulations to Secretary Haaland for shattering the glass wall. We hope you enjoyed this segment on the 255 as we continue to decolonize American history and more specifically women’s history! We here at the 255 believe it is crucial to revisit our history with new perspectives so we can take away new understandings of the contemporary world. We look forward to bringing you our last features for International Women’s History Month in the coming week! As always, a friendly reminder to be kind, stay safe, and read about indigenous people’s history!

Welcome back to the 255! We send all our students our best wishes as we quickly approach midterms season. This week we wanted to give a quick update on one of our former #FacultyFeature posts. Last semester we highlighted the work of Professor Lauren Erin Brown and her book project Cold War, Culture War, and War on Terror: The Art of Public Diplomacy in a Post-Cold War World. Professor Brown’s work was one of our featured reading posts which you can check out here. Recently, the Wilson Center, a non-partisan policy forum for tackling global issues through independent research, interviewed Professor Brown about her motivation and inspiration to conduct her study. Check out snip-bits of the interview below and use the following link to read the entire entry.

As a quick refresher Dr. Brown’s work examines how the National Endowment for the Arts lost funding during the 1990s and reframes the conversation around the relationship between the arts and larger U.S. foreign relations in the Cold War and War on Terror. Dr. Brown discusses her own work by explaining “I’m forever interested in how and why America supports the arts and the impact those policy and money decisions have on the art that actually gets made.” She elaborates on the mission of her project by adding “These are important stories to tell in 2020, as we face a new chapter in the culture wars in an unstable economy where continued support for artists is far from guaranteed.”

“Q: What project are you working on at the [Wilson] Center?

My current book project, “Cold War, Culture Wars, War on Terror: The Art of Public Diplomacy in a Post-Cold War World, 1990-2010” is an expansion of a recent article published in Cold War History.  I’m asking three essential questions.  First, what role did cultural agencies like the NEA/NEH, the Kennedy Center, and the Smithsonian play in American public diplomacy?  Second, how did the Cold War’s end impact their operations?  Third, was the resuscitation of agencies gutted in the mid-90s and subsequent programming related to the War on Terror. Preliminary research suggests the Bush-era launched a public diplomacy operation—a marketing campaign straight from the Cold War playbook—to rebrand the NEA, enlist other agencies in reaffirming American cultural values, and support the war.

Professor Brown

“Q: How did you become interested in your current research topic?”

There’s the romantic answer and the intellectual answer to that question. The intellectual answer is that I’ve had the great fortune, over my career, to be mentored by some outstanding consumer historians–Daniel Horowitz at Smith, Charlie McGovern, with whom I overlapped at the Smithsonian, and Lizabeth Cohen at Harvard. And what is cultural diplomacy if not marketing America? . . . I remain endlessly interested in how cultural policy reflects and creates “America,” especially abroad, particularly when the version we sell to others conflicts with an “America” actively contested at home.

The romantic answer? A rose from a Russian ballet dancer. A child of the 80s, I had the good fortune to present the after-show flowers on stage to a touring group of Soviet dancers who performed Sleeping Beauty’s “Bluebird” pas de deux. I handed the dancer her bouquet and as they do, she pulled out a rose to hand back to me . . . I knew this was the enemy (being the last generation to grow up with atomic bomb duck and cover drills) and she was so beautiful. That I’d find myself decades later sitting at the Bolshoi and the Maryiinsky, studying the exchanges that brought that dancer to stand in front of younger me, seems fitting.

Prof Brown

“Q: Why do you believe that your research matters to a wider audience?”

The Russian government shuttered the U.S. Embassy’s American Center in Moscow in 2015, housed for two decades at a local library.  I lectured there while a Fulbrighter—an unassuming spot for the people-to-people interactions Cold War programs promoted.  The American Center reopened, but within the Embassy’s campus, thus necessitating Russian visitors present passports and eliminating the casual visits people-to-people exchange intends.  These are important programs which are not always maintaining support . . .  Calls to eliminate the NEA/NEH increased over the previous administration . . . Whether these agencies—domestic and international culture exchange workers that they are—survive (hopefully thrive) or follow the USIA’s path depends on our understanding of the work they do in the world.  America lives with institutions and policy approaches, cultural diplomacy especially, that are by-products of the Cold War.  It’s time to understand historically how the Cold War’s end impacted their well-being and missions as we’ve moved into a post-Cold War world, especially one with new Russian antagonism and instabilities.

Prof Brown

“Q: What do you hope the impact of your research will be?”

Simply put, for more people to see the value a coherent and thoughtful cultural policy offers our nation, both as an avenue for self-understanding domestically as well as a path for positive impression management and connections abroad.  And for these efforts to be funded appropriately, dare I even suggest, richly.

Prof Brown

Congratulations to Professor Lauren Erin Brown for the success of her research project. We are excited to have her back sharing her research findings with students this semester in AIP 317 Cold War Diplomacy. Thanks for joining us this week on the 255 and reading our #FacultyFeature. Stay on the look out for our updates that give you the 441 on the awesome works of our MMC faculty. As always, a gentle reminder to be kind, stay safe, and tune into your creative side.

Welcome back to the 255! This week we are highlighting the work of activists all around the globe in celebration of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day. We picked out four specific individuals whose work we wanted to highlight. We encourage you to use this post as an inspiration to start following and supporting activists fighting for equity, equality, and social justice both near and far. Below are two fascinating articles on important women activists both international and domestic if you are interested in learning more. Also, throughout the post, we link other articles, podcasts, and videos for those wanting to dive further into the work of these women. Finally, we would like to acknowledge that the women we highlight in this post are just a few of the awesome, hard-working women fighting for global women’s rights. There are many more activists whose work is just as important. Without further ado, let’s get started!


Marymount’s own alumni, Laverne Cox, is an American actress and LGBTQ+ rights advocate. Laverne Cox rose to fame through her role as Sophia Burset on the Netflix original series, Orange is the New Black, in which Ms. Cox became the first openly transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy award. Cox is known as a trailblazer for the transgender community, and has won many accolades for her activist work in spreading awareness and advocating for proper representation. In 2014, Laverne Cox was featured in Time magazine sharing her childhood story. Cox shattered the glass cieling and made headlines as the first transperson to be on the cover of Time. After sharing her personal story, Cox reminds the audience that “there’s not just one trans story. There’s not just one trans experience.” Cox was also the executive producer of Disclosure. This Netflix original film tells the story of Hollywood and the media’s evolving view of transgender people over the years, the violence the trans community faces, as well as movies and shows that have opened up opportunities for trans people to appear on screen. To learn more about Laverne Cox’s work, check out her ongoing instagram advocacy through her #TransIsBeautiful initiative and her podcast entitled “The Laverne Cox Show.”


Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Malala was born in the Swat district of Pakistan where her father was a school owner and actively addressed educational issues. In 2009, Yousafzai blogged for the BBC explaining her experience during the Taliban’s growing influence in the region. As a result, the Taliban attempted to assassinate Malala in 2012 as she was returning home from school. After surviving the assassination attempt, Malala has adamantly continued her work in expanding the rights of children and women world wide. In 2014, Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize for her work. At age 18, in 2015, Malala opened a school near the Lebanon-Syria border for Syrian refugees. Despite the struggles she has faced, Yousafzai continues to demonstrate her commitment to making sure that girls around the world are able to access education. Check out this video of Malala speaking in front of the United Nations Youth Assembly. Attached below are two links, one to an interview between Malala and Teen Vogue and the other to the Malala Fund describing her work in greater detail.


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a feminist Nigerian writer whose works have included non-fiction essays to short story to novels. All of Adichie’s work revolves around feminism and contemporary African literature. In 2012, Adichie presented a TEDx talk entitled “We should all be feminists.” In her presentation, Adichie shares her experiences of being an African feminist, and her views on the social construction of gender and sexuality. Her presentation gained over five million views and went on to be sampled in Beyoncé’s hit-song “Flawless.” In the same year as her TEDx talk, Adichie released a book long essay entitled We Should All Be Feminists. Most recently, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie released Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions published in 2017. Adichie has received many awards for all of her writings and is recognized as a New York Times Best Selling Author. In 2008, she was the recipient of the MacAruther Genius Grant. Below is a link to her website to check out more of her writing and information followed by a famous quote she gave in her TEDx Talk.

I am angry. Gender as it functions today is a grave injustice. We should all be angry. Anger has a long history of bringing about positive change, but in addition to being angry, I’m also hopeful because I believe deeply in the ability of human beings to make and remake themselves for the better

Excerpt from “We Should All Be Feminists” TEDx Talk 2012


Greta Thunberg is a Swedish environmental activist who is internationally known for challenging world leaders to take immediate action against climate change. Thunberg gained notice as she adamantly confronted world leaders directly and criticized them for failing to take sufficient action to prevent climate change. Greta is most well known for her local movement to organize student strikes for climate change that developed into an international phenomenon. In 2018, Thunberg addressed the United Nations Climate Change Conference and participated in the following year in the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit. Despite Greta only being 18 years-old, she has proven herself a force to be reckoned with. Thunberg was included in Time magazine’s 100 most influential people and featured as the youngest Time magazine’s Person of the Year. In addition to all of her accolades, Greta has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for three consecutive years. Check out Greta’s speech in the link below as well as an article to learn more about Thunberg’s current projects.

Laverne Cox, Malala Yousaifza, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Greta Thunberg all demonstrate the power and capability of women to advocate and progress global agendas for social justice. However, the stories do not end with these four individuals. There are so many women who have contributed and continue to contribute to the fight for women’s equality, equity, and international justice. We highly encourage you to use this month to reflect on the amazing work of women all around the world. Although the celebration of women is not solely subjected to the month of March, it is a great place to find motivation and inspiration to start your research into these amazing global advocates and activists. We hope you enjoyed this post on the 255 and look forward to seeing you next week. Lastly, we would like to remind everyone to be kind, stay safe, and celebrate women!!

Welcome back to the 255! As a new month kicks off (March?! Really?!) we are dreaming of longer days and warmer weather here on the east coast. This week on the 255, we are updating you on the success of Professor Blatt’s book, Race and the Making of American Political Science. Professor Blatt’s work has been featured across the nation in many university book clubs. That’s right, here is another segment of #FacultyFeature coming at ya!

As a reminder, Professor Blatt’s work focuses on American political thought, specifically on how ideas of difference such as race, gender, class, etc, interact with political discourse and public policy. Her book, Race and the Making of American Political Thought, was published in 2018 by the University of Pennsylvania Press. You can learn more and buy a copy of Blatt’s work here. Also be sure to check out our first blog post on Jessica Blatt entitled “Podcasts and Politics” where we featured Blatt’s guest appearance on the Always Already Podcast.

Professor Blatt’s work has recently been featured in book-club and discussions in universities all around the United States. We specifically wanted to highlight the University of Southern California’s summer book program in which Prof. Blatt’s work will make an appearance! Professor Ange-Marie Hancock Alfaro is a Dean’s Professor of Gender Studies and Political Science at UNSC and is looking into ways to diversify their program and class offerings. One of the main initiatives by Professor Alfaro is to hire more faculty members of color in their department. Along with this initiative, the summer book-program is using Professor Blatt’s work to give their participants more insight into how race has been at the center of American political culture and its developments. Check out this link to read more about UNSC’s diversity initiative and their feature of Blatt’s book. UNSC’s Political Science department hill be holding group discussions about the book to create a shared experience and sense of communal responsibility as they diversify their curricula. To use Alfaro’s words “Once we know the history, we can begin to change the future.”

We are so excited to see schools across the country use Professor Blatt’s work to give insight into the impact of race in the development of political science. Professor Blatt’s work to uncover the relations between race and American political thought is reflective of MMC’s own work to decolonize education and academic institutions. To learn more about how MMC is confronting these decolonizing efforts be sure to check the Sojourner Truth Suffrage Academy and the events being hosted by the PHR and IS departments. We would like to congratulate Professor Blatt on the success of her book and its positive reception from the public. We also thank Professor Blatt for keeping us in the loop so we can update you all through our #FacultyFeatures. We hope you enjoyed this academic update and look forward to bringing you more content about the incredible work of our faculty. As always a quick reminder to be kind, stay safe, and never stop learning!

Bonjour tout le monde and welcome back to the 255! In celebration of international language week, we wanted to showcase the amazing work of our own language programs here at MMC. Specifically, we are highlighting a new initiative by Professor Huntington to provide a space for all her French students to engage in dialogue with each other. Professor Huntington calls this conversational opportunity La Pause Café and encourages her students to join and practice their French abilities in a less traditional manner. Check out our interview below with Professor Huntington below and her more insights into La Pause Café. That’s right, coming your way is a new segment of #InClassToday.

What inspired you to create La Pause Café?

With many students and faculty working remotely this semester, I created La Pause Café in the interest of bringing together French speakers at MMC at all levels of language proficiency. The group is open to everyone–people who are learning French, people with rusty French, and heritage speakers. It is an opportunity for everyone to develop and improve listening and speaking skills, share ideas and perspectives, and to connect across geographic and disciplinary divides.

Professor Julie Huntington

How does La Pause Café help engage your students in the virtual space?

Since the group is participant-centered, we can mix up the topics of conversation and vary the content and group dynamics for each session. La Pause Café can be a place to practice conversation outside of class, to relax and chat, to check out new music, to organize activities, or to play games.  

Professor Huntington

Do you have plans on ever meeting in person as the weather warms up or in the Fall?

I love the idea of getting together for some group excursions in the city once the weather warms up. There are so many French connections in NYC. It is the best place in the US for connecting with French speakers and the diverse cultures of the French-speaking world. 

Professor Huntington

What are you most excited about by launching this program?

Creating a virtual space where people can connect with one another and have some fun in French is my main goal in launching La Pause Café. For students of the language, it is also an important opportunity to practice-practice-practice and to gain confidence and proficiency. 

Professor Huntington

Merci beaucoup to Professor Huntington for sharing this awesome conversational program for students. We also wanted to encourage students to check out the other foreign language programs offered at our school. Along with our French, Spanish, Arabic, and Chinese courses, we offer a many world literature courses that dives deep into global writings. If you love learning languages as much as we do here in the HUMSOC Division, you should definitely reach out to Professor Huntington about exploring these courses. The language courses offered at MMC are really cool, and who knows, they might be expanding soon… (shh!) We hope you enjoyed this segment of #InClassToday. Au revoir for now but we will see you soon! As always, a friendly reminder to be kind, stay safe, and learn a foreign language.

Welcome back to the 255! This week we wanted to share with you some of the cool and exciting activities in our own classrooms. That’s right! Another awesome segment of #InClassToday is coming your way!! In this post, we are featuring the integration of student clubs into academic spaces. Specifically MMC’s own Social Sciences’ Assembly (SSA) took initiative to visit Professor O’Connor’s Foundations of Social and Political Inquiry course. One of SSA’s goals is to combine student-led discussions and organizations into the classroom. This is a reflection of SSA’s mission to increase students’ voices and involvement in our social science departments. We also reached out to SSA’s co-presidents, Dorian Provencher (’22) & Tshiamo Ramela (’22), to get the inside scoop on their guest appearance in the classroom.

The Social Sciences’ Assembly is an older Marymount student organization that was recently revived in Fall 2019. As part of the SSA constitution, their mission is central in “be(ing) an extension of the Division of Social Sciences and be(ing) an avenue for students to explore issues and topics within the field. The club seeks to provide a safe space for students to discuss any relevant material to the division outside of a class setting.” Since the college’s transition to online learning, SSA has partnered closely with the Politics and Human Rights and International Studies departments to ensure that students’ voices are seriously taken into consideration. As a result, SSA facilitated and organized many PHR/IS events that took place throughout the Fall 2020 semester. SSA also partnered with the social sciences departments to orchestrate events for the Spring 2021 semester and coordinate guest speakers for the Sojourner Truth Suffrage Academy. Check out the interview with Tshiamo and Dorian below to hear more about their insights into the organization and their hopes for the outcome of this in-class collaboration.

  • What made you want to revive/lead the Social Sciences’ Assembly?

The social science department at Marymount is one of the smaller communities at the college, however it is arguably the most impactful. Through the UN program, the Bedford Hill program, and others it was important to give the department a uniform platform through SSA. This is just one of the reasons SSA was important to revive.

Tshiamo Ramela / Politics & Human Rights and International Studies Major / Class of 2022

My motivation to revive this student organization came out of a need to bridge the collaboration processes between faculty and students at MMC. I believe that these connections are crucial. After all we are here to learn and I feel like being a part of the collaborative process to design our curriculum and events is crucial to students’ passion and academic success. Being the Co-President of SSA has really given me a position to advocate for the interests and needs of my fellow peers and I have greatly enjoyed my role.

Dorian Provencher / Politics & Human Rights and International Studies Major / Class of 2022
  • What is your motivation in working closely with the PHR/IS departments?

I was motivated to work closely with the PHR/IS faculty because I think its crucial that students voices are heard in educational institutions. In creating the events for both this and last semester, Tshiamo and I consistently advocated for programs and events that our fellow students showed interest in. For example, Alex Vitale presented in a PHR/IS event last November about abolitionist politics and defunding the police. Based off of conversations with our peers, Tshiamo and I took the idea of Vitale coming to MMC to the faculty of our departments. Luckily, one of our professors had a connection and was able to get Vitale to come speak to us. Another important aspect of the continued dialogue between SSA and the social science faculty is our ability to communicate the needs and expectation of our students to the professors. It allows us to clearly articulate our expectations and desires for the department, events, and curriculum. Then, we work closely with the faculty to ensure that our wishes become realities.

Dorian Provencher / Politics & Human Rights and International Studies Major / Class of 2022

One of my motivations in working with the social sciences department is to represent the needs and desires of our students. Social science students are one of the smaller group of students at Marymount, but we also deserve representation and advocacy with our department and the entire college.

Tshiamo Ramela / Politics & Human Rights and International Studies Major / Class of 2022
  • Why did you choose to integrate SSA activities into Professor O’Connor’s PHR 101 course?

I think it’s important that we pioneer conversations about what is knowledge and break down the misleading norm that it can only be produced in a traditional classroom setting. For example, I feel like the times I have learned the most are in dialogues with my fellow students. Sure it’s always informative to read about theories and ideas from a book. But to apply these concepts in fruitful conversations with my peers is much more preferred, in my opinion. Another reason Tshiamo and I chose to integrate SSA into the classroom was based of the impeccably timed schedule this semester. Tshiamo and I are in a class together entitled Research Methods in the Social Sciences that takes place during the same time period as Professor O’Connor’s PHR 101. We thought this opportunity would be a great way to integrate an advanced level course with Juniors and Seniors with an introductory course with Freshmen and Sophomores. Not only does this provide a space to have conversations with a diverse range of ages and social science experience, but it also offers a way for Upperclassmen to give their insights or advice to students who are just starting the program.

Dorian Provencher / Politics & Human Rights and International Studies Major / Class of 2022

I think the contents of the PHR 101 closes, closely relate to many of the goals that SSA is trying to achieve. The collaboration is intended to connect the theoretical to the practical.

Tshiamo Ramela / Politics & Human Rights and International Studies Major / Class of 2022
  • What challenges has your organization faced in the new virtual spaces?

One of our challenges is definitely participation. Encouraging students to attend our events over Zoom can be a struggle, as many students may face Zoom-fatigue. That something we’re looking to improve over the semester.

Tshiamo Ramela / Politics & Human Rights and International Studies Major / Class of 2022

Participation has definitely been a struggle in the virtual spaces. When we were in person it was so much easier to just grab your friends before events started, but as we all know, it’s not that easy over Zoom. I believe we as students are often super tired of Zoom and as a result it is much harder to participate in extracurricular activities. SSA’s exec board addressed this issue by actively trying to make events more participatory. I hope we see greater student turn out through the course of the semester.

Dorian Provencher / Politics & Human Rights and International Studies Major / Class of 2022
  • What has been one of your favorite activities so far?

My favorite events have been the talks and representation of Native people. And would also say, the collaboration between the professors. We’ve definitely gotten to know each other more intimately.

Tshiamo Ramela / Politics & Human Rights and International Studies Major / Class of 2022

One of my favorite events was the “How to Defend Democracy” program we hosted along side Professor Mueller of the IS department and Professor Annabel Hogg of the PHR department. It was amazing to enter a space full of students and faculty alike that prioritized prevented the spread of authoritarianism in the United States. We discussed ways in which we as comrades could actively participated in preventing a dictatorship both in virtual and physical spaces. I think I enjoyed this event because it was so relevant to both domestic affairs in the United States as well as larger pressing international issues.

Dorian Provencher / Politics & Human Rights and International Studies Major / Class of 2022

We would like to thank Tshiamo and Dorian for sharing their insights and experiences in SSA. We highly encourage all of our readers to go check out their Instagram @socscimmc. We look forward to hearing about other events that SSA plans on posting in the future. Be sure to keep an eye out on our page too for upcoming events in the Suffrage Academy. As always, a gentle reminder to be kind, stay safe, and get involved in the awesome student organizations in our community!

Welcome back to the 255! In honor of concluding Black History Month, we wanted to highlight an important new book from emerging scholar and former first parter of Stockton, CA, Anna Malaika Tubbs. Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr, and James Baldwin are some of the most famous figures of the long endeavor to combat racial injustice in the US. Three individuals that are less well-known in the history books are their mothers. Tubbs seeks to explain how Louise Little, Alberta King, and Berdis Baldwin shaped the future of the United States in her new book The Three Mothers. We’ve got all the details, plus articles and podcasts below to learn more information about Anna Malaika Tubbs and her work. Check it out!

Anna Malaika Tubbs is a force to be reckoned with. Tubbs is an activists, educator, scholar, and now author! She received her undergraduate degree from Stanford University and is currently a PhD candidate in Sociology at the University of Cambridge. Throughout her childhood, Tubbs grew up in many countries abroad, namely Dubai, Mexico, Sweden, Estonia, and Azerbaijan. Inspired by her mother’s women’s rights advocacy work, Anna now uses her intersectional lens throughout her work to educate and advocate for the rights of women of color. She has also participated in fundraising for women’s clinics and other organizations that share her passion for social justice and advocacy. Finally, Anna also works as a diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant who has worked with companies and individuals interested in progressing their DEI goals. Follow her on Twitter @annas_tea_ and learn more about her biography and work here.

Malcolm X said “the mother is the first teacher of the child. The message she gives that child, that child gives to the world.” Unfortunately, it is not hard to understand how the work of these three women have been overlooked by the major voices of U.S. history. Tubbs’ book rewrites the narrative to feature the crucial impact these women had on the making of the modern United States. A New York Times article recently highlighted a review of Tubbs’ work in which they explain “[Tubbs] aims to correct [the] erasure [of these mothers from history] by piecing together what she can from the ‘margins and footnotes’ of books, speeches, funeral programs, and letters.”

Tubbs’ book, out now, is already being lauded by critiques. The Three Mothers is already being reviewed by major magazines and newspapers as one of the best “21 Books to Look Forward to in 2021!” (Fortune Magazine), one of the “Badass Books We Can’t Wait to Read in 2021” (Badass Women’s Bookclub), and as an “eye-opening, engrossing read” by New York Times Bestselling author, Brit Bennett. The Three Mothers was also the topic of discussion on one of our favorite podcasts, Getting Curious, hosted by Jonathan Van Ness (from Queer Eye, another fav!) Tubbs joins Van Ness to discuss her new book as well as give the audience a deeper look into her studies of Black motherhood. Listen to the episode entitled How Can We Honor Black Motherhood? wherever you find your pods.

We hope you enjoyed this segment of #AcademiaIRL. It’s important to notice works of academia in the “real world”, and applaud those who work beyond the hallowed halls of colleges and universities to continue learning and educating. Be sure to look into Anna Malaika Tubbs’ book, The Three Mothers, and tells us your thoughts and takeaways. We will see you in our next segment on the 255! As always a gentle reminder to be kind, stay safe, and read books and work of black women!!

Welcome back to the 255! We hope that you all are settling into the new semester’s rhythm. This week’s blog post highlights the celebration of the upcoming Lunar New Year. We hope this post gives you more insight into the celebration of the Lunar New Year and the culture it’s part of. We’ll also debunk some common misconceptions regarding the holiday and demonstrates the various ways individuals can celebrate.

Although the holiday season in the United States refers to the months of November and December, many Asian countries anticipate another season of holidays soon after the start of the calendar year. The Lunar Year traditionally falls between January 20th and February 20th, depending on (you guessed it!) the cycle of moon. This holiday is referred to as the Lunar New Year as it marks the first new moon of the lunisolar calendar. An article in the New York Times discusses the difference between the Solar and Lunar year by adding:

A solar year –– the time it takes Earth to orbit the sun –– lasts around 365 days, while a lunar year, or 12 full cycles of the Moon, is roughly 354 . . . To correct for seasonal drift, the Chinese, Hindu, Jewish and many other calendars are lunisolar. In these calendars, a month is still defined by the moon, but an extra month is added periodically to stay close to the solar year.

Steph Yin

In China, many families kick off the holiday season of Lunar New Years’ Eve with a familial reunion dinner. Many traditional dishes are specific to the Lunar New Year and can be seen below. The end of Lunar New Years’ Eve typically concludes with the Lantern Festival –– also showcased below. The main themes of the celebration are fortune, happiness, and health.

One common misconception regarding the Lunar New Year is that it is only observed in Chinese culture. Many different cultures and countries celebrate the New Year such as South Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, and Tibet. The popularity of the term “Chinese New Year” came from the many Chinese-Americans in the United States. Although in China and other countries, the holiday is referred to as simply the “New Year,” Chinese-Americans all over the United States collectively coined the term “Chinese New Year.”

Typical celebrations of the Lunar New Year include many fireworks, the Dragon Dance, the distribution of red envelopes, and other festive activities. The red envelopes are traditionally given from parents to children or to anyone who is single/unmarried. The tradition became popularized through an older version of the custom in which coins were distributed as gifts to ward off evil spirits. People often participate in this activity by wishing people “Gong Xi Fa Cái” which directly translate to “make money in the New Year.” Firecrackers, similar to the customs of the coins, are used to ward off an ancient monster called Nian. Although participants are equally satisfied with confetti poppers. Finally, the Dragon Dance is a key feature to the New Year. In addition to the most commonly known Dragon Dance, participants all over the world have their own traditional dances such as the Lion Dance, Phoenix Dance, and the Fan Dance.

The Lunar New Year is a 15 day-long celebration full of fun activities and events. The 2021 Lunar New Year will start the year of the Ox! We wish all of our MMC community a happy Lunar New Year. Reach out to us on Instagram and share the ways you and your loved ones celebrate. Lastly, as always, a friendly reminder to be kind, stay safe, and Xin Nian Kuai Le!!

More info on the Lunar New Year: