Friday, December 29, 2017
December 29, 2017: Reviewing Resistance: Fitchburg State University
[Whether we like it or not—and it likely goes without saying that I don’t—2017 has been defined by Donald Trump. So for this year in review series, I wanted to AmericanStudy five forms of resistance to all things Trump. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the year, Trumptastic or otherwise, in comments!]
On three inspiring conversations taking place on my campus and the challenges they offer Trump et al.
1) Feminist Conversations: Started by a group of wonderfully engaged and passionate undergrads, including Blynne Driscoll and Seferine Baez, FemCon has been an inspiring new presence on campus for a couple years now. But I would argue that the club took its activism to another level when it brought 30 students and two faculty members to January’s post-inauguration Women’s March on Washington. Feminism is of course in no way limited to the political realm, and over the last couple semesters the group has continued to sponsor and host conversations about a wide range of social and cultural topics. But at the same time, there’s a reason (well, a million reasons) why women have been such a dominant presence in the resistance to Trump, starting well before that amazing march and continuing throughout the subsequent year. And on the FSU campus, FemCon has pioneered and led those efforts, and I’m quite sure will continue to do so in 2018 and beyond.
2) Inclusive Dialogues: Like FemCon, the FSU Center for Diversity and Inclusiveness long pre-dates and transcends the Trump administration. Similarly, the Center’s Inclusive Dialogues events series, created by the Center’s wonderful Director Jamie Cochran, is in no way limited to overtly political topics. But having had the chance to moderate and participate in one such Inclusive Dialogue this past semester, on the topic of “Free Speech on Our Campus,” I would argue that they nonetheless represent an exemplary form of resistance to all that Trump is and embodies. They don’t do so through any particular political perspective, but rather through modeling a multi-vocal, informed, nuanced, democratic, well-read, and truly inclusive conversation and space. If that sounds like it describes the ideal college campus overall, well, that’s the point and the goal, and the Inclusive Dialogues, like the Center for Diversity and Inclusiveness itself, are helping FSU move closer toward becoming that more perfect university.
3) Climate Change: The ideal college campus also includes lots of innovative and important research and scholarship, of course, and FSU has featured plenty of such work in the past year. Here I want to highlight a vital new book co-authored by two of my colleages, Benjamin Lieberman and Elizabeth Gordon. Ben (a historian) and Liz (an earth scientist) created and have team-taught the interdisciplinary, cross-listed course “Climate Change and Human History” for many years, and this fall published a co-authored book on the subject, Climate Change in Human History: Prehistory to the Present. As that subtitle suggests, the book is interested in histories and questions far more long-standing and far-reaching than those limited to the Age of Trump; but at the same time, I don’t know that there’s any subject more important to our moment than climate change (and I know Ben would say definitively that there is not). Am I suggesting that researching, writing, and sharing historical and scientific analyses and syntheses represents another form of resistance to Trump? You’re damn right I am, and I’m proud to have Ben and Liz as colleagues in that fight.
December Recap this weekend,
PS. What do you think? Other 2017 stories you’d highlight?