Fielding Graduate University News

Exploring the Struggle for Social Justice in Washington DC

Posted by Marianne McCarthy on Tue, Sep 03, 2013

Fielding Graduate University Students, Faculty and Alumni Seeing Social Justice In Action

by Marianne McCarthy

During Fielding Graduate University's All School National Session, in Alexandria, VA, students, alumni, and faculty stepped into tSJ Strugglehe community to see the struggle for social justice first hand.

In a true scholar-practitioner manner, Human & Organizational Development (HOD) faculty members David Willis, PhD, and Richard Appelbaum, PhD, led a group of fifteen students and alumni on a field trip seminar through our nation’s capital to learn about historical and contemporary perspectives from the activists themselves. They visited activists working to secure safety in the workplace, preserve the cultural heritage of community music, and advance our standard of living.

Recent HOD graduate Karen Bogart ('13), PhD who participated in the seminar once before, said she appreciates the opportunity of hearing from individuals who are dealing with social justice from a political, advocacy or lobbying vantage point. “Having Summer Session in Washington provides a unique opportunity to draw on the diverse resources in DC that focus on social justice issues around the globe.”

“I’ve always been a believer in experiential education,” said Willis. “It’s important for me to take people out of the hotels and into the community.”

The first stop in the tour was the offices of the Workers’ Rights Consortium (WRC) where they spoke with Director Scott Nova who has been in the news recently advocating for workers’ safety in places like Bangladesh.

An international advocacy group, the WRC is “an under-resourced, hard-working organization that is making progress relative to regulations and agreements among major brands in terms of the treatment of workers in textile factories,” said Bogart, whose own personal interest lie in corporate governance.

According to Bogart, the WRC has had some success in the European Union. Ground-breaking agreements recently signed by major brands indicate progress toward oversight of safety and a greater investment in local communities.

Next, the group visited Dr. Atesh Sonneborn of the Smithsonian Folkways collection at the National Portrait Gallery which has archived a collection of American musical and cultural heritage that documents the social justice struggle. Willis characterized the Folkways collection as a sort of ministry of culture.

“What they’re doing is culture as ways of knowing and doing,” said Willis emphasizing the need to preserve individual voices which represent the struggle for justice.

“It’s really capturing the local voices and their experiences,” added Bogart.

The group also met separately with Judith Appelbaum, a Georgetown law professor and director of programs for the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Appelbaum talked about the Snowden case, the voting rights decision of the Supreme Court, and other current judicial issues.  Sanders added a unique perspective to the day with his efforts to effect change from within our system of laws and government.

“His politics are very clear,” said Willis. “You can almost guess with 100% accuracy where he’s going to be on an issue, but he respects his colleagues and their differences.  I appreciated that because differences and diverse opinions are what this country has been built on, and so there’s a lot of value in that.”

“All our visits had unique qualities and revealed different aspects of the struggle for social justice,” said HOD student Paul Stillman. “Despite frustratingly slow progress, setbacks, and ongoing obstacles, many people are engaged and remain optimistic that change is possible.”

“I would really encourage other students and alums to participate,” said Bogart. “I do think that is one of the benefits of having the Summer Session in Washington, which is so unique and so global in its resource base that it really distinguishes itself from other locations.”

Tags: social justice, workers rights, national session, human rights

Fielding alumnus is recent Forbes.com contributor

Posted by Sylvia Williams on Thu, Aug 18, 2011
DelvesPic

Donald Delves, EdD (’11 ELC), is a recent contributor to Forbes.com. His article, “What About Workers' Compensation?“  explores reasons for the widening gap between executive and workers’ compensation. Delves’ dissertation examined the principles of compensation that guide such decision-making.

Tags: social justice, workers rights

Richard Appelbaum Named MacArthur Foundation Chair

Posted by Sylvia Williams on Thu, Jun 03, 2010
 Richard Appelbaum, PhD, affiliated with the School of Human & Organizational Development (HOD), has been named to one of two John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Chairs at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). He and UCSB history professor Nelson Lichtenstein will pursue joint programming and research focused on the theme of "Human Rights in the Workplace: At Home and Abroad."

Appelbaum is a professor of sociology and global and international studies and director of graduate studies at UCSB. He and Lichtenstein each will receive the returns on two $1 million endowments over five years to support teaching, research, and public service activities.

The MacArthur Foundation Chairs currently at UCSB are among seven chairs funded by a UC system-wide endowment from the MacArthur Foundation. The endowment was established in 2009 for the purpose of supporting research, public service, and teaching that promotes the objectives of the MacArthur Foundation, which include working to defend human rights, advance global conservation and security, make cities better places, and understand how technology is affecting children and society. At the end of five years, the two endowed chairs currently at UCSB will be redistributed to other UC campuses.

The scholarly activities Appelbaum and Lichtenstein will pursue include an evaluation of the International Labor Organization and its work; a historical and comparative look at guest worker programs; and an examination of evolving labor conditions, laws, and enforcement in emerging economies.

According to Appelbaum, "Globalization has made it increasingly difficult for workers to achieve the basic human rights to which they are entitled. Retailers such as Wal-Mart and the brands that they carry now source from supply chains that extend around the world, moving production from factory to factory in search of the lowest possible costs. One of our central challenges is to better understand how workers' rights can be best achieved when businesses can move about the world with relative ease."

 

Tags: globalization, social justice, workers rights, MacArthur Foundation, human rights