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FrameWorks’ Interdisciplinary Team of Social Scientists
Takes Guesswork out of Communications Practice

When advocates at nonprofit or non-governmental organizations want to change public opinions about social issues, they often look to experts in marketing and public relations. These communications professionals carry out a range of valuable activities that aim to raise awareness about issues, change attitudes, and build support for change. They generate news coverage, produce advertisements and marketing materials, cultivate social media audiences, and more. These professionals focus on and specialize in getting messages out.

But this work frequently skips a vital first step: getting messages right. Social science research across many disciplines—from social psychology to linguistics and sociology to political science—has found that frames shape the effects that messages have. Through elements like images, values, messengers, facts and figures, and metaphors, frames communicate who is responsible for a problem and what kinds of solutions are needed to address it. They affect whether the public considers an issue an important problem that needs systemic solutions.

Even when communications professionals do consider how to frame an issue, they either go by instinct or commission a poll or focus groups that gauge reaction to messages. But these methods tend to be poor measures of the outcomes that advocates are pursuing—moving opinion, increasing support and creating engagement in a social issue. Instead, typical message testing simply measures the “likeability” of alternative wordings. Using “likeability” as a benchmark may do more harm than good, as it is likely to yield recommendations that merely reinforce existing understanding. Using these methods, it’s nearly impossible to arrive at communications that open up new perspectives.

As a result, social issue advocates have no way of knowing whether their (often costly) communications activities will have meaningful, long-term impacts. They don’t know whether the way they are communicating about an issue is in fact changing people’s attitudes and behaviours in the directions they desire. And, worse yet, they don’t know if their tactics might actually be undermining their cause.

At the FrameWorks Institute we believe that there is a better way of creating framing strategies that consistently move understanding and support in desired directions. We believe that communications research is a worthy investment and that communications questions are empirical questions.

A Multi-Disciplinary Approach
We are a multi-disciplinary team of social scientists working to help experts and advocates communicate in ways that are empirically proven to be effective. As social scientists, we understand that public attitudes about social issues are deeply entrenched as the pictures and thoughts in people’s heads that together add up to “culture.” We know that changing cultural norms involves more than catchy slogans, well-placed op-eds, elegant logos, and viral tweets. We know that long-term social change depends, first and foremost, on how ongoing frame contests play out. And we know that developing effective frames requires input from disciplines beyond marketing and public relations.

That’s why we developed Strategic Frame Analysis®, an interdisciplinary approach to communications that applies social science methods to communications on scientific and social issues. While framing has been called a “fractured paradigm” within the academy, our approach integrates methods and findings from across disciplines, designing studies and experiments that operationalize the extensive scholarly literature on frame effects. Our team includes:

• Anthropologists like myself, who analyze and catalogue the widely shared cultural assumptions that lie under and shape public opinion about social issues;
• Linguists, who develop metaphors that help people understand complex, abstract issues through concrete, familiar analogies;
• Sociologists, who ensure that framing strategies help people think about systemic, structural changes rather than individual behaviors; and
• Political scientists, who design experiments that test different framing strategies for their ability to move support for public policies.

We work together, across disciplines, and the results are clear. Over the past 16 years, we have worked on social issues all over the world to good effect. In the United Kingdom, we are working with advocates and experts to reframe public opinion about child development and maltreatment, criminal justice, the economy and poverty. This work has been used to guide campaigns, drive professional development programs and shift the strategy of leading charities and third-sector organizations.

At FrameWorks, we go beyond guesswork. We weave our interdisciplinary skills together to come up with evidence-based strategies to make change and strengthen society.

 

Nat Kendall

About this blog contributor | Nat Kendall-Taylor, Ph.D | Twitter: @frameworksinst
Nat Kendall-Taylor is Chief Executive Officer of the FrameWorks Institute, a think tank that designs empirical communications strategies to help nonprofit organizations drive social change. In this role, Nat leads a multi-disciplinary team of social scientists in studying public understanding and exploring ways to reframe such pressing issues as criminal justice reform, immigration, taxation, early childhood development, addiction, environmental health, education, public health and climate change.

Highlights from May 14, day two.

Our opening keynote on Day Two was from Professor Margaret MacMillan, on “Learning from the past: history in the present”.

MacMillanKeynote

Professor MacMillan encouraged everyone, regardless of their background, to learn history, and not just the facts, but how it’s made as well. History changes over time; Professor MacMillan explained how genetics and archaeology have revised understandings of human migration over time. History cannot predict the future, but it can help formulate questions. For example, in the first age of globalisation, before World War I, radical politics emerged in response to large economic shifts. Perhaps most important, Professor MacMillan told the delegates that history helps us realize humility.  

 

Next, GSS Executive member Amba Kak introduced Rhodes Scholar Seham Areff in conversation with Panashe Chigumadzi, titledSweet medicine, Coconuts and Kool-Aid”.

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Panache shared a passage from her debut novel, Sweet Medicine, then spoke with Seham and delegates about the Rhodes Must Fall as well as Fees Must Fall movements in South Africa. Panache emphasized how the movement confronted issues of access and belonging in higher education at the intersection of race, gender, and economic status.

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Isabel Hilton’s keynote broadened  nomadic peoples, about the ‘low-intensity’ proxy wars fought in Central America and thought of as marginal by elites from hegemonic countries. She spoke about the consequences of siloed knowledge in disciplines, noting that ‘managing mangroves isn’t on any engineering syllabus,’ and the disastrous environmental consequences that has produced.

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Sir Paul Collier with fellow Keynote Speaker Isabel Hilton, OBE.

 

 

After lunch, GSS Executive member Anne introduced Sir Paul Collier. Sir Collier carefully explained a novel economic model he constructed to understand corruption among tax collectors. His advice for non-economist delegates: read outside your field. Sir Collier gleaned a key part of his theory from perusing the quantum mechanics literature.

 

 

Throughout the day, delegates met for breakout sessions.

 

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Dr. Daniel Zoughbie on healthcare in low-resource settings.

Gabrielle Newell’s breakout session on successful and failing social interventions.

Gabrielle Newell’s breakout session on successful and failing social interventions.


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After breakouts, GSS Executive member Michael Mackley introduced MIT President Professor Susan Hockfield, who delivered a rousing talk on “The 21st Century’s Technology Story: The Convergence of Biology with Engineering.” In her talk, Professor Hockfield highlighted the fascinating work happening at MIT to improve renewable energy and medicine. She implored delegates to remember the critical role of government Research and Development funding.

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GSS Executive member Carlos Gonzalez then introduced Ambassador Michelle Gavin in conversation with Master of Public Policy Student Mastewal Terefe about International diplomacy in Africa.

Ambassador Gavin, who became pregnant while serving, explained that being a mother both limited her work and allowed her access to communities and topics that would have otherwise been closed. ‘A conversation about kids turns into a conversation about the future real quick,’ she opined.

In a separate interview with Media and Communications, Ambassador Gavin, a Rhodes Scholar, reflected on the Rhodes Must Fall movement. ‘Very few people…who end up with a Rhodes association haven’t wrestled with these responsibilities.’ She currently directs the Africa Center in New York, which aims to address negative misperceptions and stereotypes of Africa by supporting artistic and intellectual collaborations.

 

 

Delegates and speakers then headed out for an elegant formal Dinner at Wadham College, followed by a “Meet and Mingle” drinks reception at Rhodes House.

The 2016 Global Scholars Symposium kicked off on the morning of Friday, 13 May. After registration, we all sat down to listen to the Symposium start. The afternoon began with an opening discussion on the theme from GSS Executive member, Rebecca Peters. Rebecca discussed the origins on the 2016 Symposium theme Spaces in Between. 

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She then introduced the Warden of Rhodes House, Mr. Charles Conn. Mr. Conn told delegates that almost ‘everything in today’s world will be found in intersections, not the disciplines.’ He emphasized the space between finding technical solutions to problems and implementing them, the space between the humanities and the sciences, and in reference to his time as an environmental advocate, the space between the human and non-human.

Executive member Michael Mackley then gave delegates an overview of how sessions would run and the rules of Rhodes House in the fun format of #DelegateTips.

Michael then introduced the first panel of the day, featuring Baroness Helena Kennedy and Sir John Bell in a session titled ‘From the clinic to the courtroom: the future of genomic medicine.’ Sir Bell explained the reasoning behind the UK’s current effort to sequence not one, not two, but 100,000 genomes over four years. Baroness Kennedy told us delightful stories of papparazi snooping in celebrities’ rubbish to find used dental floss for paternity testing, as well as other ethical pitfalls of sophisticated genetic technologies. 

Executive member Anne State introduced Dean of the Blavatnik School of Government, Ngaire Woods. Dean Woods talk, ‘The revolt against globalisation,’ aimed to find the space between concerns over inequality and globalization. Her answer: people feel like economic system’s are rigged. To fix this, Dean Woods emphasized the need for transparency in global trade. She called for politicians to take responsibility for economic problems, instead of sending central banks to ‘the frontline’ with risky monetary policy.

Next, Dean Woods introduced our panel speakers, the Deputy Governor of the Bank of Israel Dr Nadine Baudot-Trajtenberg and Cambridge Professor Bill Janeway around the topic the “Economics of innovation”. Dr. Baudot-Trajtenberg explained the recipe and ingredients of Israel’s prolific start-up culture: investment in higher education, state support of venture capital, and the bitter pill, mandatory military service. Professor Janeway warned delegates about the limits of prospective cost-benefit analysis for infrastructure: the costs are always easier to calculate than the benefits. 

The first breakout session featured nine simultaneous hour long facilitated sessions. Here are a few highlights.

 

Bill Janeway

Professor Janeway on innovation, economics, and visionary politics.

 

 

 

 

Rebecca Farnum

Rebecca Farnum’s group talked about scholar activism.

 

Felipe

Felipe Hernandez discussed his non-profit, peace education program.

 

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We then returned for our afternoon panel, introduced by Executive member Amba Kak. This panel titled “Can ‘effective altruism’ change the world?” featured Max Harris, Salil Tripathi and Sam Deere. The conversation generated heated discussion, but everything cooled off following in the Rhodes garden to enjoy the sunshine and drinks.

 

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Effective Altruism Panel: Max Harris, Salil Tripathi, and Sam Deere.

 

cooling off

Cooling off after a heated discussion

 

Our dinner in the marquee further fostered the ongoing conversation. Following dinner, delegates enjoyed our evening entertainment. First, the Oxford Imps, an improvised comedy group, gave us some laughs with their informal antics. Next, EquinOx showcased their dance talent. Lastly, the men’s acapella group the Oxford Commas At the end of the night as delegates left Rhodes House, some broke off for the Jericho Tavern and others to G&Ds for ice cream. Check back soon for a review of day 2 for our 2016 GSS Delegates!

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Resisting Systemic Oppression through Critical Peace Education

“I live inside the belly of the rough, Compton USA made me an Angel on Angel Dust”- Kendrick Lamar, m.A.A.D City (2012) 

Across the US, socioeconomically disadvantaged young men of color are increasingly vulnerable to negative or violent experiences  that range from witnessing or being a victim of homicide or crime to being followed by police officers for no apparent reason or receiving ‘fear’ or ‘suspicion’ stares as they walk down the street. In particular, children who are immigrants are increasingly susceptible to experiencing trauma as a result of living the immigrant experience which includes being under constant threat of deportation. Nationally, the Flint Michigan water crisis or the environmental injustice in Los Angeles due to oil drilling are recent examples of institutional oppression that continue to be the reality for people in marginalized communities. While these sources of violence stem from historical systemic inequalities, they have a real effect in the classroom as educators and health officials are increasingly documenting children with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For example, a 2015 survey found that about half of sixth and ninth graders in Los Angeles showed signs of mild to severe PTSD.

Across California, young men of color are 2.5 and 4.1 more likely to have PTSD than their white peers.  It is not surprising that these young men experience serious health and educational disparities such as increased suspension rates, low academic achievements, and increased obesity and asthma rates.  

In partnership with Improve Your Tomorrow (IYT) and Valley High School, my graduate work has centered around developing a ten week summer program called I am Me: Strong, Capable, & Peaceful that seeks to break poverty’s psychological trap on a child’s sense of self-identity and –efficacy  through critical discourse and interdisciplinary approaches.

The IYT program has noted that some of its students exhibit PTSD-like symptoms as a result of the violence they have encountered. In general, children with PTSD may exhibit hyperactivity, aggression, antisocial behavior, or abuse drugs as ways of coping with stress. Additionally, some may feel sad, anxious, fearful, or depressed which makes them reluctant to participate in activities or disrupt class time or be chronically truant/absent. More seriously, students who feel angry or frustrated fantasize about revenge to resolve their feelings of guilt by physically or verbally fighting or defying others. While California schools may have discretionary resources to address PTSD, the need is often unmet as is currently the case in Compton Unified School District.

Instead, I am Me proposes to use low-resource methods to help begin to heal the wounds. I am Me uses critical peace education to empower young men of color to use their voice and actions to peacefully address these negative experiences. The critical pedagogy analyzes the historical power structures that produce violence and oppression for a person depending on their identity (e.g. gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, immigration status) and seeks to mobilize groups to remedy or address the violence they experience through peaceful or nonviolent transformative actions. Moreover, the program uses elements of cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness strategies, musicology and anthropology, and political education to compliment the critical discourse. For example, we have created a workshop that critically examines hip-hop culture and music to deconstruct its history and how it serves as a source of empowerment and therapy but also how capitalistic institutions have hijacked the art form to marginalize others, notably womyn, for a profit.

Most of all, I am Me is a celebration of the students’ cultural experiences and perspectives which are often ignored or devalued in traditional school curricula. Also, the program seeks to build positive relationships among students to mend ongoing conflicts. For example, students have asked for workshops on the “N word” and on “What it means to be White” to not only deconstruct their meaning but to heal wounds caused by the internalization and projection of oppression among and between students. Other workshops will critically discuss various forms of discrimination including homophobia, sexism, and ableism within their contexts as well as examine current campaigns for change such as Black Lives Matter, Fight for 15, and #Not1More. The aim is for the participants to develop micro/individual campaigns over a 10 week period to address sources or effects of institutional oppression in their lives.

I am Me is rooted in the belief that critical discourse should not be reserved for intellectuals in the Ivory tower or university lecture halls but that it must be a key element across K-12 curricula. To deconstruct or abolish the oppressive institutions and process that continue to marginalize so many, we must heal from within: decolonize the mind and the soul of a child to empower them to recognize and pave their path towards their freedom.

The ultimate aim of the intervention is to restore humanity and critical consciousness to the learning process. The hypothesis is that via a culturally tailored curriculum students may strengthen ethnic and social self-esteem and self-efficacy to help buffer against the effects of negative experiences. I am Me adds critical discourse as a key element for empowerment but also borrows from various education programs, such as Becoming a Man (B.A.M), Urban Warriors, Manhood Development Program, and HLF Inc.

As historically marginalized communities continue to experience income and ethnic re-segregation, political marginalization, and increasing instances of overt racism, violence, and discrimination, I am Me seeks to empower those most affect to resist and eventually reform these sources of violence and marginalization.

 Felipe

@felipedhernan |LinkedIn

About the blog contributor:

Felipe Hernandez is a first-generation Mexican-American from Los Angeles, California. He graduated with honors in political science and music performance from UC Irvine. During his Fulbright Fellowship in Colombia he taught English & political science and established an after-school leadership program for children affected by the ongoing civil war. Felipe is also a 2012 Truman CA scholar and is currently a Marshall scholar pursuing an MSc in Education, Policy and International Development at the University of Bristol.

An Affront against All Women

Laws passed for the protection of women are rarely made in the interest of women.

 

Over the past three weeks, the North Carolina General Assembly (NCGA) has come under attack by national corporations and local activists alike for passing House Bill 2, a bill that, among many other provisions, prohibits transgender people from using the bathroom based on the gender with which they identify. The law was passed in response to a Charlotte nondiscrimination ordinance that ensured that all transgender and gender nonconforming people were allowed to use public facilities that feel safest for them, free from discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

 

As a transgender North Carolinian, I kept asking myself why the NCGA would go out of their way to pass a law like this in the first place. Why were conservative lawmakers so worried about which restrooms people like me use? Why did the senators and representatives of the NCGA spend $42,000 of taxpayer money convening an “emergency session” just to keep people like me from peeing in the bathroom that feels most comfortable?

 

According to North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, the bill was necessary because transgender nondiscrimination ordinances make (cisgender) women vulnerable to sexual assault by “allowing men to use women’s bathroom[s].” Or, as House Speaker Tim Moore explained, transgender nondiscrimination ordinances like Charlotte’s lead to “the security risk of a sexual predator (in public restrooms).”

 

By the logic of conservative NC politicians, it was simple. They were sanctioning discrimination against the transgender community in order to “protect women.”

 

This logic is nothing new, nor is it unique to North Carolina. For centuries, conservative Southern legislatures have been using the guise of ‘protecting women’ not to substantively improve the lives of women—i.e. by passing more robust domestic violence protections or ensuring that women are paid an equal wage to men—but to oppress other minority groups and to deny all women equal standing in society.

 

Look at the example set by Jim Crow. In the debate about segregation in North Carolina, one of the most common tropes used to defend centuries of racist laws was the erroneous imperative to ‘protect’ white women from black men. Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, black men in political cartoons across North Carolina were painted as monsters, rapists, and beasts who preyed on white women, and the fear that these cartoons fostered was used to enforce racial segregation.

 

Jim Crow laws led to incredible violence against black communities, decades of political marginalization, and a history of racist brutality in the state that continues to this day. The racist white men who crafted Jim Crow laws in North Carolina most likely weren’t interested in protecting (white) women, they were interested in protecting their own power, economic control, and ability to oppress communities of color.

 

The same logic was applied against women themselves in the early 1900s, when the nation was debating whether women should have the right to vote. Men who held power at the time tried to convince women that they didn’t want the right to vote by appealing to benevolent sexism and a need for protection. Men argued that, by taking on the duties of civic life on women’s behalf, they were protecting women whose fragile constitutions couldn’t tolerate the stress induced by governing society. The men who sought to deny women the right to vote most likely weren’t interested in protecting women, they were interested in protecting their own control of the political system.

 

This logic has even been carried through into contemporary debates about reproductive health. In conversations about comprehensive sex education, men in legislatures across the country argue that abstinence-only sex education is necessary to protect the virtue and morality of young women. In effect, abstinence-only education ensures that women have less knowledge of and control over their bodies and thus less ability to determine their futures. The men who seek to obstruct young women from having access to information about sexual health most likely aren’t interested in protecting women, they’re interested in maintaining their control of how women think about their own bodies.

 

In every case, the imperative to protect women was not—and has never been—about protecting women. Women did not need protection from black North Carolinians; black North Carolinians needed protection from discrimination and violence. Women did not need protection from the responsibilities of voting; women needed protection from discrimination and political powerlessness. Women did not need protection from the spectre of sexual impropriety; women needed protection from men who would deny them knowledge about their own bodies.

 

House Bill 2 is no different than these other historical examples. The logic that the NCGA uses to defend House Bill 2 relies on the same kind of benevolent sexism that’s been used to oppress women, people of color, and other minorities for centuries.

 

Bathroom bills do not protect women from sexual predators in public restrooms—they do the exact opposite. By forcing people to use the restroom that matches their assigned sex at birth, bathroom bills facilitate violence against women by placing transgender and gender nonconforming people at serious risk of sexual assault and hate crimes. Furthermore, by reinforcing benevolent sexism in government, legislation like House Bill 2 further entrenches the paternalistic idea that women are not capable of making decisions about what is best for themselves.

 

Women in North Carolina do not need the General Assembly to protect them from transgender people. Transgender people in North Carolina need protection from the General Assembly and from people in positions of power who seek to deny us bodily autonomy, equality, and the opportunity for self-determination. And all women—transgender and cisgender alike—need protection from men like Pat McCrory and Tim Moore who feign concern for their safety while allowing transgender women to be brutalized.

 

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About the blog contributor

Jacob Tobia (who uses the gender-neutral pronoun “they” in place of “he” or “she”) is a leading voice for genderqueer, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people. In 2014, Jacob made their debut on the national stage when they were interviewed by Laverne Cox as part of MTV’s The T Word, and in 2015, Jacob was profiled by MTV in an hour-long episode of True Life: I’m Genderqueer. A Point Foundation Scholar, Harry S. Truman Scholar, and recipient of the Campus Pride National Voice and Action Award, Jacob has captivated audiences at college campuses, national conferences, and corporate events across the country with their message of gender empowerment and social change. Their writing and advocacy have been featured on MSNBC, MTV, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Guardian, and Jezebel, among others. Originally from Raleigh, North Carolina, Jacob graduated Summa Cum Laude from Duke University with a degree in Human Rights Advocacy, and has worked at the United Nations Foundation, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. Jacob currently lives in Brooklyn and has worn high heels in the White House twice.

 

 

Why geography is better without a map

Since my earliest days in mom-imposed gingham and saddle shoes, I approached each school year with no small amount of energy and romance. I lined up office supplies and color-coded file folders, as if an organized desk ensured an organized mind. Coming up to Oxford, the start of a shiny, new academic adventure already brimmed with the potential; the prospect of learning amidst the dreaming spires was more than this Pittsburgh girl ever anticipated. The only thing missing was a bouquet of freshly sharpened Dixon-Ticonderoga #2s.

To date, my American educational experience had been wholly linear, with expectations clearly defined via syllabi, textbooks, and assigned problem sets. Even when exploring new terrain, I could chart performance via quiz and midterm scores. If I worked hard, all would be well. Like aspiring postgrads who came before me, I arrived amped to learn from a rockstar supervisor, research questions burning a fire in the belly. Answers would be found by wrestling a database into statistical submission via Q and R.

Little did I know that reading a DPhil would be entirely different from anything I had encountered Stateside. Within weeks of matriculation, I discovered my linear assumptions were wholly wrong, and my learning curve was steep. At no point could I solve for x to find a tidy answer, but what I found was even better: there was an appetite for asking questions, and challenging assumptions.

Oxford became an exercise in being intellectually uncomfortable and discovering that the most interesting questions are often the ones that refuse to fit neatly into disciplinary silos. There is no singular roadmap for navigating new intellectual territory, and yet, wrong turns are possible, even probable.

While I made my home within a single department, I quickly learned what a “big tent” applied geography offered, with colleagues tackling the thorniest challenges facing society today: geopolitics, climate change, globalization, international migration, and beyond. My research was informed by questions from both human and physical geography, and required me to bring insights from a host of literatures – the economics of technological change, behavioral psychology, and public policy, to name just a few – to bear on questions of stimulating innovation and economic development.

While conducting research at Oxford to consider lessons learned from the frothy dot-com era, I discovered that our most influential innovators – be they in engineering, finance, business, law, or government – were the individuals whose experiences allowed them to develop fluency across otherwise stove-piped communities. A brief glance at global research agendas reveals that today’s thought leaders are, in fact, stimulating cutting-edge work at the very intersection of disciplines.

As a policy wonk interested in how best to improve social, economic, and environmental outcomes, it made sense that studying the earth’s peoples and places, its physical and social processes, tensions, dynamics, and differences across cultures and terrains would offer an appropriately wide berth for asking questions not constrained by linear models but sensitive to the realities of contemporary problem-solving. And I could not have guessed where it would take me.

After defending in autumn of 2004, my findings offered the launching point for the consultancy I would found as a certified minority and women-owned enterprise to help philanthropists, government, and other institutional investors make better decisions across borders and boundaries, from local to global. Since 2005, Islay has been successful only because of our ability to work across sectors and disciplines to inform high-dollar, high-risk challenges at the intersection of science, technology, and society.

Year on year, we see the benefits of technologies allowing us to communicate more readily or to travel more freely, to wrestle infectious diseases into submission, or to better link smallholder farmers to markets, thereby lifting people from poverty. Often the most interesting developments in our increasingly interconnected, fast-paced world are those that beget more questions, ones that require a creativity and resourcefulness at the leading edge of innovation. Further, such developments regularly introduce societal and ethical questions for which there are no simple answers.

Separate from my own nonlinear path, we have advanced beyond the William Whyte “organization man” era, in which employees work an entire career in a single firm. Today’s economy and society require boundary spanners, versatile thinkers who can communicate across disciplines, sectors, and, yes, party lines. When considering the most intractable challenges, there is no “silver bullet” solution to be found within a disciplinary silo. If we throw a narrow solution at the world’s most challenging problems, we are quickly setting ourselves up for failure. 

While some recoil at the societal challenges facing our generation, I take solace in knowing there exists a cadre of out-of-the-box thinkers who seek solutions in out-of-the-way spaces and places – and I remain thankful for the opportunity to learn both from and with them amidst those dreaming spires.

  Babcock-Lumish AZ Inn - uncropped priceofcialis.com page

About this blog contributor | Terry Babcock-Lumish, founder of Islay Consulting LLC | Twitter: @TerryBL

 

Islay founder Dr. Terry Babcock-Lumish has worked in local, state, and federal government in the United States. Upon leaving the White House in 2001, she served as a researcher for two books by former Vice President Al Gore. More recently, she built the public policy program at the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute in the former New York City home of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, and taught economics at the United States Military Academy at West Point. She read her DPhil (St. John’s College) as a Clarendon and Truman Scholar.

 

A Secular Age? Re-Enchantment in the Mosque

Are we witnessing the clash of civilizations, as predicted by Samuel Huntington? The rise of the secular and fall of religion in Europe and the United States? Or are we instead witnessing the growth of in-between spaces that take for granted a reality of multiple or fused identities—the secular as Charles Taylor (2007) envisioned it, as a space in which one may or may not believe? Don’t we all—whether traditionally faithful, agnostics or atheists—still seek enchantment in our daily lives?

Mosque communities across Europe and the United States have demonstrated fused spaces: whether of the mosque building itself (e.g. an eco-mosque in Cambridge, the UK); the material (e.g. a cultural building hosting art installations erected next to Berlin’s largest mosque); or notions challenging particular views, while upholding the foundations of Islam (e.g. a women-only mosque in Los Angeles, with another planned for London). Over two years of ethnographic research as a Sociology PhD candidate in European mosques, I meet someone who sees herself as a female imam; women wearing hijabs, nikabs or nothing to cover their hair. I witness religious ceremonies celebrating the wedding of young Muslim couples, matchmakers working within the mosques and unwed teenagers holding hands.

The media paints Muslims as singular, too often essentialized as dangerous or threatening. Diversity and innovation become lost in these accounts, in which the sensational (hook-handed imams, suicide bombers and Jihadi brides) displaces everyday activities within the mosques and Muslim communities more broadly. Many major academic accounts depend on these same sources (the media) for their own claims-making, further silencing the Muslims addressed, as objects, rather than engaged, as actors, in the project of modernity.   

Led by a sort of elite activist youth, themselves grappling with fused identities, mosques across Europe and the United States are undergoing site enormous transformations. Many have become not only dignified spaces for religious practice, but also centers for debate and dialogue.  These spaces allow Muslims to become agents of their own fates, forging paths to engagement and integration into mainstream society. They do not skirt difficult issues, rather face them head-on, grappling with how to address homosexuality, the always-looming Israel-Palestine conflict and expectations from the security sphere that they work against radicalization.

If we—academics, journalists, “outsiders”—enter into Muslim spaces, such as the mosque, we cannot deny the diversity of Islam. We cannot claim that Islam as a singular space, place or practice in this world exists. By entering into the mosques, attending tours, debates, dialogue, prayer, weddings, funerals or feasts, we will live diversity too. And we can show ourselves as, more than claims-makers or news-breakers, individuals engaged with the in-between spaces of modernity. We can show ourselves as truth-seeking, evading disenchantment, answering the longing that we too share: to find meaning here in this world, whether oriented towards another or not. 

 Source

Taylor, Charles. A Secular Age. Cambridge: Harvard University Press

 

Elisabet BeckerAbout this blog contributor | Elisabeth Becker,  MPhil 

Elisabeth Becker is currently a PhD student in Sociology at Yale University, studying mosque communities in Europe. She received her MPhil in Sociology from Yale, as well as MSc in Forced Migration, Development Studies and Latin American Studies from Oxford University. She completed her BA in Sociology/College Scholar at Cornell University. She is a 2005 Truman Scholar and 2006 Marshall Scholar.


Crafting Change Agents Through Dialogue in South Africa and the US

Over the past year, in collaboration with my friend, Isabel Morgan, we founded Crafting Change Agents (CCA), as a means to provide opportunities for civic engagement and leadership development for underrepresented undergraduate students. We envision a transnational social justice network of youth scholar‐activists that support knowledge-sharing of strategies to advance social justice efforts. With the #RhodesMustFall, #BlackLivesMatter, #SayHerName and many other youth-spurred movements challenging the status quo, this is an opportune time for us to create a network of talented visionaries and passionate youth voices. Our work focuses on the intersections of two communities and how their lived experiences converge and diverge.

Crafting Change Agents is a youth-led program that serves as a cross-cultural dialogue between black American (US) students and coloured* South African (RSA) students. This project aims to better understand the ways in which minority groups function within democratic societies and how greater participation in democratic processes can encourage peace. In order to promote social cohesion and the building of inclusive societies it is imperative that safe spaces be created where both intra- and inter -group conversations can be held.  The goal is for both groups to gain a better understanding of one another’s culture and to better define their position within their community and political activism spaces. 

CCA is structured into two phases. In April 2015, selected scholar-activists participated in Phase I of the program. In Phase I, six students from Spelman, Morehouse and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health engaged in weekly-structured digital conversations with seven students from the University of Cape Town and the University of the Western Cape to explore US and RSA history, critical race theory, and political and community activism. US students traveled to Cape Town to meet their RSA colleagues to participate in Phase II of the program.

During May-June 2015 in Phase II of the Crafting Change Agents program, six U.S. students embarked on a journey to Cape Town, South Africa to bond and create lasting friendships with seven South African students. Scholars had the opportunity to meet with an academic professor, the U.S. Consul General, a journalist, a filmmaker, instructors and school administrators and community youth activists to bring to life their scholarly understanding of the Black experience in South Africa. Scholars were challenged to question and embrace their identities; to dialogue about the social barriers that hinder progress toward true equity; and to empower one another and promote social justice in their respective fields, including but not limited to law, public health, public diplomacy and foreign relations. Likewise, American students shared their experiences as being black in America and what that means in 2015 to various South African audiences.

Additionally, students were able to explore these questions through an inter-disciplinary approach at our poetry event at the District 6 Museum. Perhaps, one of the most memorable moments of the exchange was during the Night of Reflection, held at the symbolic District Six Museum. The event attracted over 100 guests and showcased talent from local artists and screened a short film on displacement in South African flats, sparking a discussion about privilege and oppression. Our scholars led a rich dialogue with the audience using a participatory exercise, selecting 10 people from the audience to form a line. A volunteer was then asked to arrange the individuals by level of privilege in South African society, simply based on their appearance. This kind of exercise promotes genuine discussion about privilege and also allows for an exchange of how relative it can be given differences in lived experiences. Overall, the students used poetry and art to spark meaningful conversations about the topics in order to truly challenge their understandings of race, identity, and social justice.

Without genuine dialogue, the dynamic of change is not sustained, and diversity is lost as a result of self-enclosure. Through this program, youth were able to find similarities in the points of intersection between their lived realities, social justice spaces, histories, and nationalities. Isabel and I thought that the students would have been initially divided by these differences and needed time to “warm up” to each other. However, the students acknowledged their differences and quickly moved forward with their dialogues about race, identity, and social justice. The differences are the spaces “in between”, yet these spaces served as the heartbeat to the program. The points in between were the very points that served to unite.

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About the blog contributors:

 

Tayler Ulmer is currently pursuing her masters in cialismax.com the Social Anthropology of Development at SOAS, University of London. Her research explores tourism as a tool for international development. Tayler is a Marshall (’15) and Truman (’13) Scholar. Tayler is a black girl without borders. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling the world and baking delicious treats!

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Isabel Morgan is a Master of Science in Public Health student at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, studying disparities in maternal and child health research. Most recently she served as a Healthy Equity Fellow in the Nemours Office of Health Equity and Inclusion. Her future career path will likely be guided by her commitment to improving health equity in communities of color, grounded in strong collaborations with community stakeholders. 

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Chronic community-level trauma in the context of urban poverty has been well documented (SAMHSA, 2014). Moreover, structural barriers to improve socioeconomic status and achieve gainful employment persist for Black communities in the U.S. More specifically, the 2013 U.S. Census notes that in Baltimore, Maryland, Black men ages 20-24 are about four times more likely to be unemployed compared to their White male counterparts (37% vs. 10%; Harris, 2013).

To address this pressing public health and social challenge, I am working with Holistic Life Foundation, Inc. (HLF) on a community-academic research collaboration entitled, “Advancing the Mental Well-Being of Baltimore through a Trauma-Informed Workforce Development Program” with funding provided by the Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute. For over 14 years, HLF has been addressing community-level trauma through a strengths-based approach focused on enhancing community members’ resilience through yoga and mindfulness. HLF also serves as a workforce developer for urban young people. Started in 2011, the trauma-informed Workforce Development Program trains emerging adults—many of them former youth participants in HLF’s programming—to become HLF yoga and mindfulness facilitators. The Workforce Development Program helps ensure sustainability of HLF by preparing future generations of facilitators who are dedicated to working with underserved populations. 

The GSS 2016 theme, ‘Spaces in Between: Innovation, Insight and Progress at the Intersection’ reflects the spirit behind this partnership. We are interested in developing effective, innovative solutions for addressing the chronic trauma that exists in Baltimore and in other urban underserved cities across the U.S. We use an inter-sectional approach to address trauma by drawing on our respective strengths as community leaders and public health researchers. Prior research on HLF’s yoga and mindfulness school-based programming suggests that it enhances adaptive responses to stress among disadvantaged urban students (Mendelson, 2010). There has been no research, however, on the organization’s Workforce Development Program. HLF is poised to expand its programming in additional Baltimore City Public Schools and in other U.S. school settings. The HLF founders are therefore interested in assessing whether the Workforce Development Program is adequately preparing its participants to meet the demands for expanded HLF programming, and if the trainees are personally benefiting from their participation. The aims of the current community-academic research endeavor are to evaluate the psychosocial impact of HLF’s Workforce Development Program on trainees and assess trainees’ perceived readiness to serve as instructors. This project utilizes in-depth individual interviews with trainees, as well as brief surveys on stress and resilience factors at the start and end of the training program. 

The challenge of using an inter-sectional approach to addressing trauma is that both parties, the community and academia, must enter a vulnerable space, the ‘space in between.’ This work forces us to pull away from what we already know, our comfort zone, and have an open mind that perhaps a better, more effective solution can be created at the intersection than in our respective silos. Thus, the benefit of a community-academic partnership is that the field of public health can develop a more nuanced understanding of the community’s identified needs, and in turn, public health research methodologies and tools can be applied to strengthen community capacity and to promote the sustainability of community-based programs.

The intersection between community and academia is important and hold great potential for catalyzing positive social change locally and nationally. Many trainees in the Workforce Development Program are emerging adults raised in low-income areas of Baltimore, where they were exposed to chronic stress and trauma, including community violence. HLF’s trauma-informed training program aims to provide these young people with skills that enhance their personal resilience and capacity for working effectively in low-resource settings. The program is thus anticipated to have positive effects on both the trainees and more broadly, on the trauma-exposed communities they serve. HLF will use research findings to refine the Workforce Development Program and subsequently, be better positioned to meet the ongoing need and growing demand for HLF programming in high-risk neighborhoods throughout Baltimore. More specifically, HLF will be able to expand its longstanding partnership with Baltimore City Public Schools and promote more trauma-informed schools, thereby facilitating the healing of Baltimore City youth dealing with chronic stress and trauma. At the national level, there is an established Federal investment to address the persistent opportunity gaps facing young men of color. Thus, our partnership will also have broader relevance because the Workforce Development Program has potential to serve as a model for how local and national nonprofit organizations can offer urban young people employment options that enhance resources in trauma-affected communities nationwide.

Acknowledgements: generic cialis cheapest price

April Joy would like to thank Dr. Tamar Mendelson, Associate Professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of Mental Health, for her mentorship and support of the research collaboration with Holistic Life Foundation, Inc. April Joy also expresses her deepest gratitude to Mr. Ali Smith, Mr. Atman Smith, and Mr. Andres Gonzalez, Founders of HLF, for their openness to forge a community-academic partnership as a means of effecting positive social change, and to the Hopkins Urban Health Institute, for their generosity and belief in the significance of this joint endeavour to building healthy, resilient youth and communities.

References

Harris, L. (2013). Feel the Heat! The Unrelenting Challenge of Young Black Male Unemployment. Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). Washington, DC. Accessed on 21 May 2015 from http://www.clasp.org/resources-and-publications/files/Feel-the-Heat_Web.pdf

 

Liu, D. and Witter, D. (23 Apr 2015). Young Black Males’ Well-Being Harmed More by Unemployment. Gallup, Inc. Accessed on 21 May 2015 from http://www.gallup.com/poll/182507/young-black-males-harmed-unemployment.aspx

 

Mendelson, T., Greenberg, M.T., Dariotis, J., Feagans Gould, L., Rhoades, B., & Leaf, P.J. (2010). Feasibility and preliminary outcomes of a school-based mindfulness intervention for urban youth. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 38, 985-994.

 

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2014). SAMHSA’s Concept of Trauma and Guidance for a Trauma-Informed Approach. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Rockville, MD. Accessed on 14 June 2015 from http://www.samhsa.gov/nctic/trauma-interventions

April Joy Damian

About this blog contributor | April Joy Damian, MSc | Twitter: @apriljoydamian

April Joy is from San Francisco. She received a B.A in Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley and Master of Medical Science from Harvard Medical School. She is currently a NIH/NIMH Psychiatric Epidemiology Training Predoctoral Fellow pursuing a PhD in the Department of Mental Health with a Certificate in Health Finance and Management at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is also a Truman Scholar, Class of 2005.

The GSS 2016 team is looking for people, organizations, or groups who are working to address viagra 50mg or 100mg pressing issues in any field in their context (global, local, or national). We want to highlight how people, organizations, or groups use interdisciplinary or inter-sectional approaches to conceptualize the problem and develop strategies to address them. All we ask is for a 500-750 word blog submission along with any relevant media, quotes, or web links. 

If you’d like to have your work highlighted, please submit an entry to Felipe.dhernandez@gmail.com with subject line “GSS 2016 Blog Entry”

Guiding questions for Blog:

The theme for GSS 2016 is ‘Spaces in Between: Innovation, Insight and Progress at the Intersection’. What does this theme mean to you with particularly reference to the work that you’re doing? How do you use interdisciplinary or  inter-sectional approaches to gain insight into the local, national, or global pressing problem that you are working on addressing? How do you use interdisciplinary or  inter-sectional approaches to develop innovative strategies to address the local, national, or global pressing problem that you are working on addressing? Please discuss your strategy for addressing the main issue your focusing on. What are the challenges and benefits in using interdisciplinary or inter-sectional approaches to solve/address the pressing issues your working on?  Why is the space in between disciplines or the intersection between fields important in addressing local, national, and global pressing issues?