Exploring Social Justice
Public addresses on the topic of peacemaking and social justice have a long history at American University, including both political and cultural figures and multiple United States presidents.
A new program, the Social Justice Lecture Series, will build on this rich tradition by hosting a series of social-justice lectures, bringing to the campus exemplary leaders from a diversity of backgrounds to share their own stories of love and forgiveness in action around the world.
The speakers have had personal and profound experiences with injustice and have demonstrated the capacity to forgive and to live the rest of their lives committed to witness and advocacy within their spheres of influence.
Speakers confirmed for the series so far come from a variety of notable backgrounds. They include:
-- Deborah Drennen, Executive Director of the non-profit Freedom House in Detroit, a sheltered, supportive environment for individuals seeking asylum in the U.S.
Drennen brings timely perspective on what prompts an individual to leave family, home, job and country to survive and seek freedom.
-- Father Leonel Narvaez Gomez, president of the Foundation for Reconciliation, based in Bogota, Colombia and active in 15 countries in the Americas. The Foundation teaches forgiveness and peacemaking to students inured to violence in their culture. Where violence is perceived as the rational norm, “We have to offer the irrationality of forgiveness and reconciliation,” Narvaez says.
-- Reed Brody, Counsel and Spokesperson for the NGO Human Rights Watch in New York, NY, which conducts research and advocacy on behalf of human rights issues worldwide.
-- Andrea Kalin, founder and director of Spark Media of Washington, D.C. an independent multi-media and documentary production house that specializes in creating socially-conscious media used to raise public awareness in America and throughout the world.
The lectures will be presented by a partnership of sponsored by the American University Library and the University’s Washington College of Law, School of International Service, School of Public Affairs and the Kay Spiritual Life Center with support from the Fetzer Institute.
Reading lists will be distributed in advance of each session, and attendees will provide questions to stimulate discussion with speakers. The series will be publicized through announcements and posters on campus, social media posts, campus radio announcements and online calendar listings.
Reed Brody, Counsel & Spokesperson, Human Rights Watch, New York, NY, October 22, 2014
Deborah Drennan Executive Director, Freedom House, Detroit, MI, March 4, 2015
The Father Leonel Narvaez Gomez, S.J. President , Foundation for Reconciliation, Bogota, Colombia, April 9, 2015
Andrea Kalin, Spark Media, Washington D.C., Feb. 18, 2015
This is a project of the Fetzer Advisory Council on the Humanities.