By Lian Bunny, ’17
St. Bonaventure University will host Dr. David Kirkland as the next speaker in the #RaceMatters series at 4 p.m. Monday, Oct. 19, in the Robert R. Jones Board of Trustees Room in Doyle Hall.
St. Bonaventure will host more than two dozen lectures, movies and discussions this year designed to spur positive communication about race issues.
Kirkland’s talk, titled “Why Just Mercy? Education as a Practice of Freedom,” aims to raise awareness of the effects of education injuries suffered by the disadvantaged. The hope is to interrupt the cycles of miseducation and dismantle the logics affirming the school-to-prison pipeline.
The public is invited to Kirkland’s presentation, which is based on more than a decade of research aimed at understanding the complexities of race and justice in education.
Kirkland, an associate professor of English and urban education at New York University’s (NYU) Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, will challenge the deficit concept of education by asking the following questions: How do cycles of inequity influence how, why and what students learn (and do not/refuse to learn)? How might critical educators disrupt such cycles to empower students to transform their own communities, lives and educational destinies?
His presentation will examine the issues within the politics of education and explore the power of the classroom as a tool for constructing or deconstructing opportunities for learning and liberation. Kirkland will argue that true education is a practice of freedom that begins with a voice and a verb, where affirmed, valued and respected students have the power to transform the world.
Many of the #RaceMatters topics have a direct tie-in with the campus common read for 2015-16, “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption” by Bryan Stevenson. The All Bonaventure Reads selection explores the inequity embedded in the U.S. criminal justice system and focuses mainly on the work of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Ala., a legal practice Stevenson founded as a young lawyer.
Chris Brown, director of First-Year Experience and Orientation, encouraged students of all studies to attend.
“While (Stevenson’s) text focuses on the criminal justice system, there are many ways the themes of justice and mercy extend into all of our lives, no matter what we study in college,” Brown said.
Throughout his research, Kirkland has explored intersections among race, gender and education, analyzing culture, language and texts. He has used critical literary, ethnographic and sociolinguistic research methods to answer questions on the equity in education.
Kirkland received the 2008 American Education Research Association Division G Outstanding Dissertation Award. He was also a 2009-10 Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, a 2011-12 NAEd/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow and is a former fellow of the National Council of Teachers of English Research Foundation’s “Cultivating New Voices among Scholars of Color” program.
Brown said he hopes the talk will encourage St. Bonaventure students to re-evaluate their college education and how they use it.
“It is important to take some time to reflect on the value of the education we gain while at St. Bonaventure,” Brown said. “It’s not only about the content we study, but also how we apply the privilege of our education in our day-to-day lives. This event in the Race Matters campaign asks us to think about how we use our education to challenge racial injustices for the good of all.”
Learn more about upcoming programs at www.sbu.edu/RaceMatters.
About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, we believe in the goodness of every person and in the ability of every person to do extraordinary things. St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. Named the #5 best college value in the North by U.S. News and World Report, we are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition. Our students are becoming extraordinary.
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