Hastings College Lecture Series Student Symposium to focus on belonging

The Hastings College Lecture Series Student Symposium committee has announced its upcoming speaker series focused on the theme “We All Belong Somewhere.” Speakers and panelists will focus on inclusivity in their respective areas.

Hastings College Lecture Series Student Symposium speaker events are free and open to the public.

All speakers and panelists are on Wednesday, October 24, on campus and include:

  • 9:00 a.m. in the Jackson Dinsdale Art Center – Alexis Silk with a lecture titled “Gendered Aspects of Glassblowing”
  • 10:00 a.m. in French Memorial chapel – Rev. Starsky Wilson with a lecture titled “The Power of Place: Finding Vocation in A Violent World”
  • 11:00 a.m. in Wilson Auditorium – Drag Queens of the Plains with a panel discussion “Belonging in Drag”
  • 12:00 p.m. in Wilson Auditorium – Dr. Chardie Baird with a lecture titled “Belonging & Inclusivity: Tips for, and Practice Being, an Ally”
  • 1:00 p.m. in French Memorial Chapel – Kim Nielson with a lecture titled “States of Belonging: Disability, Community and Exclusion”
  • 2:00 p.m. in Wilson Auditorium – Yohance Lacour and LeJia Johnson with a lecture titled “Belonging After Incarceration: A Conversation”
  • 3:00 p.m. in French Memorial Chapel – Ranita Ray with a lecture titled “Making a Teenage Service Class: Poverty and Mobility in the United States”
  • 7:00 p.m. in French Memorial Chapel – Joshua Chambers-Letson with a lecture titled “After the Party: A Manifesto for Queer of Color Life”

The mission of the series is to encourage and provide financial support for extraordinary artistic, cultural and academic experiences for the Hastings College community. The Student Symposium Committee focuses on one topic and brings to campus a variety of speakers, performers and experiences related to the current year’s theme.

Additional information about the speakers is included below.

Alexis Silk will discuss her experience as a professional female glass artist and her perception of belonging within her field. Glassblowing is a largely male-dominated field of art which has only opened up opportunities for women in the last few decades. Silk is currently the only active female glass artist working in her city. Her work explores human anatomy, often female bodices, and addresses issues of objectification and human nature. She will discuss her personal experiences as a trailblazer for female glass blowers, as well as her struggles and her hopes for the future of the field.

Rev. Starsky Wilson is a pastor, philanthropist and activist pursuing God’s vision of community marked by justice, peace and love. He is pastor of Saint John’s Church (The Beloved Community), president and CEO of Deaconess Foundation and chair of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy. Through Saint John’s, Wilson has led activism on myriad issues, including youth violence prevention, Medicaid expansion, public school accreditation, voter mobilization, capping payday lending and raising the minimum wage, while more than quadrupling worship attendance and annual giving. He established The Beloved Community Conference to resource social justice ministries and Sojourner’s Truth: Celebration of Preaching Women. In 2014, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon appointed Wilson to lead the Ferguson Commission, a group of citizens empowered to study the underlying conditions and make public policy recommendations to help the region progress through issues exposed by the tragic death of Michael Brown, Jr. Wilson was elected chair of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy in 2017. He also serves boards for Chicago Theological Seminary, Deaconess Center for Child Well-Being, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, Let America Vote, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference and the Chancellor’s Council for the University of Missouri St. Louis, where he leads the Governance Committee. Under his leadership, the Urban League Young Professionals established St. Louis’ annual Young Blacks Give Back community service blitz.

Dr. Chardie Baird is an associate professor of sociology, the executive director of the K-State Office for the Advancement of Women in Science and Engineering (KAWSE), and the Spainhour Family Chair. Her research and teaching interests lie in the areas of youth and the life course, gender inequality, work and family, and social policy on gender, work and families. Her work appears in top journals including American Sociological Review, The Sociological Quarterly, Sex Roles, Sociological Forum, Journal of Women, Politics & Policy, and Sociology Compass. She is a member of the 2018-2018 HERS Leadership Institute cohort and the HERS Luce Program for Women in STEM Leadership. Her position as Executive Director of KAWSE allows her to apply her research expertise to enriching the everyday lives of women. KAWSE is charged with increasing the participation, retention, and advancement of girls and women in science, technology, engineering and math fields at K-State and offers events for middle school students, high school students, undergraduate students, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and faculty. KAWSE is the 2018 recipient of the Kansas State University Outstanding Department or Unit Award for Enhancing Diversity and the 2018 INSIGHT award for Inspiring Programs in STEM.

Dr. Kim Nielsen is professor of disability studies at the University of Toledo. Her scholarship explores disability, gender and citizenship throughout U.S. history. Nielsen’s latest book is A Disability History of the United States (Beacon Press), the first analysis of disability throughout United States history and covers the period prior to European arrival through the present. Other books include Beyond the Miracle Worker: The Remarkable Life of Anne Sullivan Macy and Her Extraordinary Friendship with Helen Keller(Beacon, 2009) and The Radical Lives of Helen Keller (NYUP, 2004). Nielsen holds a Ph.D. in History from the University of Iowa. She has two mostly-grown daughters and lives in Toledo, Ohio with three cats and her sweetie. Nielsen’s talk will consider how people with disabilities have created, fostered and claimed community inclusion throughout U.S. history, while also exploring the ways by which laws, policies, and practices have excluded people with disabilities.

Lejia Johnson is an advocate for restorative justice and partner to those who are directly impacted by the U.S. criminal justice system. While a native to El Paso, Texas, she considers herself a sojourner. Johnson is a project manager with Sunshine Enterprises, where she manages the partnership with Pathway to Enterprise for Returning Citizens (PERC) pilot program. She is currently pursuing her master of arts in public ministry with a focus on racial justice and holistic re-entry at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and received her bachelor of arts in psychology from New Mexico State University. While there, she served as house lead at Stepping Stones Residential Treatment Facility, where she collaborated with clients and their families on creating treatment plans, connected them to resources, created an environment which fostered healing from trauma, and planned, organized and raised funds for a community event to generate awareness. Johnson serves on the Board of “Off the Pews”, where she’s focusing on program development and building community partnerships to develop youth as entrepreneurs.

Yohance Lacour is an entrepreneur, artist and activist. He is also a returning citizen, a father committed to reconnecting with his daughter and a Chicagoan working to create viable opportunities and positively structured environments for underserved communities in his hometown, Chicago, Illinois. Prior to his incarceration, Lacour had been both an investigative reporter and accomplished playwright. In 2018, he was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for drug conspiracy charges. While in prison, he picked up leathercraft as a hobby, and started a leather greeting card business. Upon his release in 2017, he enrolled in Chicago School of Shoemaking where he has since become an instructor. The greeting card business that he started while incarcerated became Love Leathers, a line of luxury greeting cards. Yohance graduated from Sunshine Enterprises’ Community Business Academy in 2017. In 2018, Yohance was invited to co-facilitate a workshop series on entrepreneurial soft-skills for Sunshine Enterprises partnership with Pathway to Enterprise for Returning Citizens (PERC). He ID’s also as an Invisible Institute Fellow.

Ranita Ray is assistant professor of sociology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She is an ethnographer specializing in women of color feminisms, children and youth, urban inequalities, and education and policing. Her book, The Making of a Teenage Service Class: Poverty and Mobility in an American City (University of California Press, 2018), challenges common wisdom that targeting “risk behaviors” among youth such as drugs, gangs, violence and teen parenthood is key to breaking the cycle of poverty. Ray has published several other articles and book chapters related to children/youth, urban inequalities, race, class and gender, and co-authored a book titled As The Leaves Turn Gold: Aging Experiences of Asian Americans (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2012). She is currently preparing a book manuscript that draws on rigorous fieldwork to explore how the relationship between policing, race, class and gender shapes schooling experiences and educational trajectories of children growing up in marginalized communities in Las Vegas. Ray is actively involved in community-oriented research projects, and co-founder of Heating Youth Voices—a Connecticut based youth-led organization.

Joshua Chambers-Letson is a writer and performance theorist working at the intersection of performance studies, critical race theory, political theory and queer of color critique. An associate professor of performance studies at Northwestern University, he is the author of After the Party: A Manifesto for Queer of Color Life (NYU Press, 2018) and A Race So Different: Law and Performance in Asian America (NYU Press, 2013). His academic writing has appeared in edited volumes and journals including Social Text, Political Theory, Criticism, MELUS, TDR, and women and performance. Art writing has appeared in catalogues for Teaching Hsieh’s exhibition at the 2017 Venice Biennale, the Chrysler Museum/Grey Art Gallery’s Tseng Kwong Chi: Performing for the Camera, as well as Dirty Looks, The Brooklyn Rail, ASAP/J, and the Walker Reader. With Ann Pellegrini and Tavia Nyong’o, he is a co-editor of the Sexual Cultures series at NYU Press. Presenting material from his new book, Chambers-Letson presents a eulogy and a manifesto that stakes out the life-sustaining and worldmaking powers of minoritarian performance. Written in the folds between queer of color life and death, the author brings the work of José Muñoz and Karl Marx to bear on a set of performances by Nao Bustamante and Siouxsie and the Banshees.

Hastings College is a private, four-year institution located in Hastings, Nebraska, that focuses on student academic and extracurricular achievement. Hastings College has been named among “Great Schools, Great Prices” by U.S. News & World Report and a “Best in the Midwest” by The Princeton Review. For more, go to hastings.edu.

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