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.