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CHESS Speaker Series

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    Gannon University's College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences prepares students to positively impact the world around them by engaging them in opportunities for meaningful knowledge-building, critical and innovative thinking, and exploring some of today's complex global challenges through an array of educational programming experiences.

    A hallmark of the College's work in carrying out this mission is its annual CHESS Speaker Series, which engages both Gannon and broader Erie community members in important and timely conversations that impact our neighbors across the world.

    As we navigate a world altered by the unprecedented events of the past year and a half, it can be difficult to know how to begin healing.  The College of Humanities, Education, and Social Sciences presents this year-long series with events centered on artistic expression, exploration of our varied heritages, and emphasis on the self as well as our connections with one another. Together, we will regain our footing in a changed world.


    The Need for Multilingual Signage in Erie

    Ashley Yochim headshotTuesday, February 8th  | 7 p.m. | Waldron 219

    Dr. Ashley Yochim, an Associate Teaching professor in English at Penn State Behrend, will present a workshop centering on a linguistic landscape analysis of Erie’s public signage which includes exploring the linguistic diversity of the city’s past and current generations of newcomers. This analysis indicates that in Erie, all official public signage is in English only, with the only multilingual signs being in new American-owned private businesses, places of worship, and street murals. Thus, there is a need for more multilingual signage in Erie, including directional signposts to help guide new American residents and students in the community. After the presentation, Gannon’s multilingual students will create signs in their own languages that will be posted around campus to accommodate the University’s multilingual student population.


    An Exploration of Caribbean American Representation Onscreen: West Side Story and In the Heights 

    Friday-Saturday, February 11-12th  | Zurn 104

    Carlos Mamani

    Film Society of NWPAThe Schuster Theatre Fringe Fest and Film Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania partner with the CHESS Speaker Series in order to shed light on issues of racial and ethnic representation in film musicals. From the 60th anniversary of the original film adaptation of West Side Story to the recent remake directed by Steven Spielberg and the film version of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights, Hollywood’s representation of Spanish-speaking Caribbean Americans remains a relevant and important issue. Join us for an event which features a panel discussion which will explore these issues and their effect on audiences.

    • Friday, February 11 - 7:30 p.m. Screening of In the Heights  

    • Saturday, February 12 - 12:30 p.m. Screening of West Side Story 

      3:00 p.m. Reception & 4:00 p.m. Panel Discussion on Hollywood’s Representation of Spanish-speaking Caribbean Americans featuring Jasse Camacho Vera, Dr. Carlos Mamani, and Dr. Rhonda Matthews  


      Multicultural Dance Night

      Friday, March 11th  | 6 p.m. | Schuster Theatre

      Multicultural Dance

      One World. One City. Our City. Erie. 

      Let us come together and celebrate the rhythm of different steps from around the world. Join us for a multicultural dance night at the Schuster Theatre featuring dancers of many different disciplines coming together to showcase the universal connections of creativity in humanity. Register with the code "FREE" here.

      Thirty-Three Cecils


      Author Everett De Morier & Thirty-Three Cecils, the Best-Selling Novel Set in Erie Soon to be a Motion Picture

       Tuesday, March 15th  | 7 p.m. | Palumbo 3rd Floor

      Everett De Morier will share his broad experiences as a writer of musicals, non-fiction books, newspaper and journal articles, and, most recently, the novel Thirty-Three Cecils.  Mr. De Morier also wrote the screenplay based on his novel, set largely in Erie and with Gannon connections, and will visit us fresh from the film set. 


      Collins Lecture (Eric Cline): 1177 BC, The Year Civilization Collapsed

      Wednesday, March 23rd  | 7 p.m. | Online

      Could a globalized, complex, international world system collapse suddenly and without previous warning? Many are worried that it could happen today, but few realize that it has already happened before. Just such an apocalyptic disaster struck the civilized and international world of the Mediterranean regions a little more than 3,000 years ago in 1177 BC, followed by the world's first recorded Dark Ages.

      In this illustrated lecture via Zoom, Professor Eric Cline of George Washington University will examine this disaster and ask whether the collapse of those ancient civilizations might hold some warnings for our current society. Register here.

      Zoom Link: https://gannon.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_biXTYZzZQeWlfcj7GG9AOA

      Beekeeping in the Goodwill Garden 

      Beekeeping -- Connie Walker 

      Thursday, March 31st  | 6 p.m. | Waldron 219 

      Join Ms. Connie Walker, local beekeeper and business owner (Black and Green), and Dr. Martha Kosir, professor in Gannon’s Global Languages program, who will speak on the importance of honey bees in the Erie community, how to take the first steps toward becoming a beekeeper, and the cultural significance of bees in Slovenia. There will be a question and answer period to provide you with the opportunity to dig deeper into this eco-friendly hobby. Ms. Walker and Dr. Kosir will also share exclusive details on the plans to install a hive in Gannon’s Goodwill Garden during our celebration of World Bee Day on May 20.


      What Brings You Hope?  Kai Roberts on Mental Health and the Power of Creativity Kai Roberts

      Thursday, April 21st  | 7 p.m. | Waldron 219 

      Kai Roberts was carrying a full load as a producer, recording artist, and educator, while attending Carnegie Mellon University as an undergraduate student when he began to experience the symptoms of extreme anxiety. He began his healing process, using music as a medication. Recording his thoughts and frustrations in the form of poetry, he was soon inspired to create an album that would encourage others in similar situations and enlighten society on the college experience often kept secret. Kai strives to show students that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that they are not alone. Through his message, he hopes to give people the courage to find their own outlets for achieving mental health balance. 

      In his high energy “Active Mic: Mental Health Through Music” presentation, Kai tells the story of his battle with panic attacks and Generalized Anxiety Disorder through interactive dialogue and hip-hop music. From the beginning, the audience moves with Kai through the origins of his anxiety and his GAD disorder and goes into his recovery, with a first-hand look at all of the emotions he experienced along the way . Be prepared for good music, meaningful messages, and an overall good time.

      After the event, a working piece of art that allows individuals to answer the question, "What brings you hope?" created by Gannon students, faculty and staff will be on display. The art will be traveling around campus as a living installation and will be unveiled for the first time at this event. 

      Co-sponsored by Gannon’s chapter of Active Minds.


      Gannon's 45th Annual Writing Awards Night

      Friday, April 22nd  | 7:30 p.m. | Yehl Ballroom

      Join us for Gannon University’s 45th Annual Writing Awards Night where students will be recognized for their accomplishments in research, journalism, and poetry. We are honored to have 2021-2022 Erie County Poet Laureate Sean Dougherty as our featured speaker of the evening.



      Past Lecture Series Events Fall 2021 

      Las Magnificas Performance

      Monday, September 20th | 8 p.m. | Schuster Theatre

      Women Guitar Player

      Returning to campus for another indelible show in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, the CORE Ensemble continues its mission of intercultural dialogue. This performance will feature Nadya Encarnacion in the roles of Chavela Vargas, Celia Cruz, and Violetta Parra, three transformative and influential figures in Latin American cultural history.

      Co-sponsoring with the Schuster Theatre through the Clemente fund

      Equitable Erie Walk

      Thursday, September 29th |  4:30 p.m., | AJ's Way

      Join members of the Gannon community as we explore and ask questions about spaces on our campus and the larger downtown community. This guided walk will visit several downtown staples such as the Warner Theatre, the Erie Playhouse, the Erie Art Museum, and Perry Square among others all while asking who these places and spaces are perceived to be in service of and accessible to. Does everyone desiring to experience these assets and amenities have equitable access? Does what we offer through programming reflect the racial and cultural diversity of our community? Does everyone feel welcomed and accepted? These are the questions that Gannon and Erie Arts & Culture are interested in answering in both the university’s setting and in Erie as a whole.

      EquitableErie.com

      Frenemies: How to Interact with Those We Love but Disagree With

      Thursday, October 7th, | 7 p.m. | Yehl Ballroom

      Berny and Geston

      Friends since middle school, Berny Jacques and Geston Pierre are both children of Haitian political refugees who fled political instability that put their families at risk.  Despite their shared family immigration story, they clash on just about everything to do with social and political issues in the U.S.  Join Berny and Geston as they show us how people who profoundly disagree can maintain beautiful "frenemy-ships" through love, respect, honesty, and humor.

      View Recording

      Food as Healing with Shane Bernardo

      Thursday, October 28, | 3 p.m. | Palumbo Academic Center (3rd Floor Open Space)

      Shane Bernardo

      Creating local food systems and sustainable foodways are important entry points into the realm of food justice.  "Food as Healing" seeks to unearth how cultivating, celebrating and practicing food-based rituals nourishes us emotionally, intellectually and spiritually in ways that conventional comfort foods cannot. Shane Bernardo will present virtually to a live audience on Gannon’s campus as well as to those who join via Zoom. Attendees will learn how reclaiming our sense of tradition, culture, identity and ancestry can root our movements centered upon healing and increase our capacity to resist and push forward.

      Shane Bernardo is co-founder of Food As Healing, a grower, facilitator and food justice organizer based in Detroit, Michigan that uses food and storytelling as mediums for healing and decolonizing.

      Unpredictability and Presence in Creative Action

      Saturday, November 6th | 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. | Grounded Printshop (1902 Cherry Street, Erie, PA)

      Ashley Pastore

      We begin with an artist talk by master papermaker Ashley Pastore and printmaker Alex Anthes. They will show some of their work, share their artistic philosophy, and talk about “being present” through creative action in the form of printmaking as a counter to the unpredictability of life. They will then give a printmaking demonstration, explaining specific presses and processes. Finally, they will lead a printmaking workshop with up to 20 participants (RSVP required). In the first part of the workshop, participants will create a print on the letterpress. In the second part, participants use the monotype process, which involves painting onto a sheet of plexiglass and then running the letterpress print. Each participant in the workshop will get to keep a copy of the print they make. All are welcome to attend the talk and to watch the demonstration, both of which are free and open to the public; however, the printmaking workshop costs $5 per person and is limited to 20 people.

      Alex Anthes


      Past Lecture Series Events Spring 2021

      Where do we Go From Here? Howard Thurman, MLK and the Beloved Community Today

      Tuesday, February 23 | 7 p.m. | Zoom Livestream

      Howard Thurman

      Prominent Interpreter of both Howard Thurman and Dr. Martin Luther King Junior, author, pastor and theologian Dr. C. Anthony Hunt will present the promise of Dr. King’s “Beloved Community” in light of the perils of covid-19 and structural racism. A panel of Erie respondents will be moderated by Rev. Dr. Charles Mock, pastor of Community Missionary Baptist Church and past president of Inter-Church Ministries of Erie County, a sponsoring partner in this presentation.

      View Event Recording

      Sponsored by the Inter-Church ministries of Erie County, Gannon Philosophy Department and the College of Humanities, Education and Social Science

      Ain’t I a Woman!

      Thursday, Feb. 25 | 7 p.m. | Zoom Livestream

      Shinnerrie Jackson

      Multi-talented actress Shinnerrie Jackson, a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, heads this one-woman theatrical performance where she plays historical figures Fanny Lou Hammer, Clementine Hunter, Sojourner Truth and Zora Neal Hurston. Jackson has headlined this show in performances all across the country.

      Sponsored in part by Gannon University’s Alex Clemente Fund for the Performing and Related Arts

      A Conversation with Samantha Fuentes: Uplifting the Voices of the Silenced

      Tuesday, March 2 | 7 p.m. | Zoom Livestream

      Samantha Fuentes

      On Feb. 14, 2018 a gunman wielding an AR15 entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and fired on students, faculty and staff. Seventeen people lost their lives, and many others were wounded. Samantha Fuentes was among the injured in the Parkland tragedy. While fortunate to be alive, she is still battling the physical and mental ramifications of that day. Despite these tragic events, Fuentes is committed to delivering a poignant message in today’s conversation: to make sure that no child or adult is devastated by senseless and preventable gun violence ever again.

      Sponsored by Aetna and the Crime Victims Center

      Madam Vice President: How the Election of Kamala Harris Changes – and Doesn’t Change  – the State of Race in America

      Wednesday, March 10 | 7 p.m. | Zoom Livestream

      Daniella Gibbs Leger

      Daniella Gibbs Léger, executive vice president for Communications and Strategy at American Progress, will analyze the implications of the election of Vice President Kamala Harris. Léger has written for Essence , thegriot.com, and Huffington Post and has served as a special assistant to the president and director of message events in the Obama administration.

      View Event Recording

      Dr. Uche Blackstock

      Uche Blackstock

      Wednesday, March 24 | 7 p.m. | Zoom Livestream

      This discussion features emergency physician and founder of Advancing Health Equity Uche Blackstock, Ph.D. Blackstock is committed to advancing equity in health care and addressing specific racial inequalities within the health care system. Her work has been featured on a national scale in publications and in the media.

      Co-sponsored by the Morosky College of Health Professions and Sciences

      44th Gannon Writing Awards Program: Featuring Distinguished Poet Sherwin Bitsui

      Friday, April 16 | 7:30 p.m. | Zoom Livestream

      Sherwin Bitsui

      Sherwin Bitsui is the author of three books of poetry and the winner of the 2010 PEN Open Book Award, an American Book Award, and a Whiting Writers Award. He has been published in Narrative, Black Renaissance Noir, American Poet, The Iowa Review, LIT, and elsewhere. “...The only way to read Bitsui is to trust his poetic momentum and embrace his brilliant work.”— Booklist

      Bi-Cultural, Mixed-Race, and Returnee Experiences in Japan and the US

       

      Past Lecture Series Events Fall 2020

      From 1619 Virginia to 16503 Erie: The Constitutional Path to Black Lives Matter

      Tuesday, Aug. 25, 7 p.m., Zoom Livestream

      Longtime Gannon faculty member Parris Baker, Ph.D., examines how racism was ingrained in the founding of the United States and the historical events that have led to the current Black Lives Matter movement. The focus on making reflective and reflexive change and the desire to re-evaluate processes at the micro and macro level are two areas Baker believes can result in significant change.

      Co-sponsored by the Center for Social Concerns. 

      View Event Recording

      Post Globalization: The Struggle for a Post-Pandemic Future

      Wednesday, Sept. 9, 10:10 - 11:05 a.m., Zoom Livestream

      Renowned professor Walden Bello of the State University of New York at Binghamton will speak on the COVID-19 pandemic, why 'connectivity' is a second stage of globalization, and how it has facilitated the spread of the novel coronavirus. Bello will go on to discuss three post-pandemic scenarios and why exclusionary forces have the political advantage.

      View Event Recording

      Congress on Campus: Racial Justice Conversation

      Monday, Sept. 21, 7 p.m., Zoom Livestream

      Join Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D-MD) and Congressman Charles Boustany (R-LA) in a wide-ranging discussion about "Racial Justice." These long serving former members of Congress will offer context and wisdom on this most important issue. Sponsored by the School of Public Service & Global Affairs, the duo are speaking to Gannon as part of the Congress to Campus program. The mission of Congress to Campus is to engage students to increase civic literacy and participation by directly connecting them with former members of Congress in the hopes of strengthening their participation in the democratic process.

      View Event Recording

      Defund, Disarm, Dismantle: Examining the Movement Against Police Violence

      Friday, Sept. 25, 11:15 a.m. - 12:10 p.m., Zoom Livestream

      Dr. Judah Schept, Associate Professor at Eastern Kentucky University, will examine the uprisings against police violence in every state, sparked by the killings of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. Drawing from more than a decade of research into the re-formation and expansion of, as well as opposition to, the carceral state in both the Midwest and Appalachia, his talk examines and contextualizes the call to defund the police and offers some insights into the broader politics of abolition.

      View Event Recording

      From Slavery to Police Brutality: The History of United States Racist Policing

      Thursday, Oct. 8, 3 - 4 p.m., Zoom Livestream

      Dr. Jason Williams, an Assistant Professor at Montclair State University, will present US Policing as Racialized Social Control: Canvassing Baltimore and Ferguson. His talk will intersectionalize our understanding of policing and recommend the need for a more historical and complicated approach toward policing practice and understanding. Dr. Viviane Saleh Hanna, Professor and Chairperson of Crime and Justice Studies at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, will examine police and vigilante white supremacist violence using her research on black feminist hauntology and abolitionist theory of crime.

      View Event Recording

      Champions of Justice

      Wednesday, Oct. 28, 11:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m., Zoom Livestream

      Social Work and Criminal Justice students will present their character synopsis of diverse individuals, including but not limited to, Victoria Earle Matthews, Carrie Steele, and Mohammed Ali, who have made often unrecognized or under-appreciated contributions to creating a more just and equitable society.

      43RD Annual Gannon Writing Awards featuring Distinguished Poet Allison Joseph

      Friday, Oct. 9, 6:30 p.m., Zoom Livestream

      View Event Recording

      Walking with Pope Francis: Encouraging Dialogue and Friendship at Gannon

      Tuesday, Oct. 27, 7 p.m., Zoom Livestream

      Join three Gannon leaders for a discussion of justice, diversity, and inclusion at Gannon, in the context of Catholic Social Teaching from Fratelli Tutti.  Gannon faculty, staff, students, and alumni are invited to participate in the conversation.

      The Annual St. Albert the Great lecture sponsored by the Philosophy Department invites colleagues to present their current research in the spirit of interdisciplinary learning and exploration in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition.

      Panelists:

      Dr. Lori Lindley, Dean of the College of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences

      Rebecca Perry, Director of the Center for Social Concerns (Co-chairs of Gannon's Justice, Diversity, and Inclusion Steering Committee)

      Dr. Eric Dart, Chair of the Theology Department and the Liberal Studies Task Force

      View Event Recording

      Building an Equitable Community: A Discussion on Inclusive Programming in the Arts

      Thursday, Oct 29, 7 p.m., Zoom Livestream

      As part of an initiative with Erie Arts & Culture promoting an equitable community, this virtual roundtable event offers a space for open discussion on inclusive programming and diversity in the arts. This discussion will be moderated by William Steadman (Concert Band Director, Gannon University) and features a panel from the artistic community throughout the city of Erie and the broader region:

      Robert Deemer, Professor of Music Composition, State University of New York @ Fredonia; Director, Institute for Composer Diversity

      Patrick Fisher, Executive Director, Erie Arts & Culture

      Kate Neubert-Lechner, Executive Director, Erie Playhouse

      Ceasar Westbrook, Freelance/Teaching Artist; Art Teacher, Erie School District

      Bill Williams, Immediate Past President, Erie Playhouse; Vice President, Martin Luther King Center

      View Event Recording

      The 2020 Election: Where are we? Where are we headed?

      Thursday, Nov 5, 7 p.m., Zoom Livestream

      The Jefferson Educational Society and Gannon's School of Public Service & Global Affairs are teaming up for a moderated discussion about the 2020 election, its results, and the path forward. Ben Speggen will moderate a discussion featuring experts on the recent history of the Republican and Democratic Parties. Plus, a diverse range of students will offer their experiences and observations.

      View Event Recording