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2019–2020 Series

The Swarthmore Discussion Group talk for April 22 has been canceled. In the interest of social distancing and keeping our community as safe as possible, all campus activities between now and May 31 have been canceled. For more information on Swarthmore College's course of action with COVID-19, please click here

Sept. 11  “A Candid Conversation with WHYY’s Marty Moss-Coane”

Marty Moss-Coane, host and executive producer of Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane

Join Radio Times’ Marty Moss-Coane for a wide-ranging conversation about her roots and her tenure as the host of the longtime Philadelphia radio show. Moss-Coane will discuss her start in the radio business, how the show works, and what it’s like covering current news and issues. She will also share some of her most memorable moments.

Oct. 16  “The Paradox of Repression and Nonviolent Movements” 

Lee Smithey, associate professor of peace & conflict studies at Swarthmore College

Lee Smithey will discuss his recently published co-edited book, The Paradox of Repression and Nonviolent Movements (Syracuse University Press). Rather than undermining resistance, repression often fuels popular movements. When authorities respond to nonviolent people with intimidation, coercion, and violence, they often undercut their own legitimacy. Moreover, activists in a wide range of movements have engaged in nonviolent “repression management” that can help turn the potentially negative consequences of repression to their advantage. 

Nov. 13  “Regional Economies: Uniting Rural and Urban Communities to Confront Climate Change”

Judy Wicks, author, entrepreneur, and activist

Judy Wicks will tell her story—from living in an Eskimo community in 1969, to moving to Philadelphia in 1970 to co-found the Free People’s Store (which became Urban Outfitters), to founding the farm-to-table White Dog Cafe in 1983, to her current projects in supporting our regional economy. Wicks will also discuss the importance of moving from “me to we” as individuals and a society to address the historic challenge of climate change and build an inclusive, self-reliant, and life-sustaining economy in the Philadelphia region.

Dec. 4  “Amid the Climate Crisis, Steps for Meaningful Action”

Melissa Tier ’14, Sustainability Program Manager for Swarthmore College, brings signs of progress in dealing with the climate crisis. Despite the US federal government’s refusal to acknowledge or confront the crisis, citizens and elected officials in the US and around the world are making important progress at local, state and international levels, including here in the Swarthmore area. Melissa will highlight some of the most notable efforts, including how some US states and municipalities are working to help the US keep our commitments under the Paris climate agreement, and how "trans-national" organizations of cities from across the world are working to drive faster adoption of climate protection strategies. 

Her talk will also include a look at how two local governments in the area – Philadelphia and Delaware County – are responding to the climate crisis. She will close with advice on how citizens can get involved and make a difference in pushing for the broad changes needed to prevent catastrophic change in the earth’s climate. Melissa has a master's degree in Sustainable Urban Development through Oxford University and studied environmental psychology while at Swarthmore

Jan. 22 “First Ladies: From Ceremony to Substance”

Katherine Sibley, professor of history and director of American studies at St. Joseph’s University

The transformation of the position of first lady began with Edith Roosevelt, considered the first modern first lady, and continued through the activist works of women like Nellie Taft, Florence Harding, Eleanor Roosevelt, Lady Bird Johnson, and Michelle Obama. What was once a position requiring mostly the skills of a good hostess has become an influential platform for change in areas ranging from civil rights to health care. Katherine Sibley published A Companion to First Ladies in 2016 and is also an authority on Soviet-
American relations.

Feb. 12 “Sub-Saharan Africa’s Debt and Development Finance Challenges”

Antoinette Sayeh ’79, former director of the IMF’s African Department, former finance minister of Liberia

Sub-Saharan Africa must better manage debt. But the rapid pace of debt accumulation notwithstanding, the development community’s concerns must remain grounded in the region’s need for large volumes of financing to meet the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals. Antoinette Sayeh is co-chair of the IDA19 Replenishment, the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries; a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Center for Global Development; and a Swarthmore College Board Manager. 

March 25  “Friends, Peace, and Sanctuary: What Does Art Have to Do with Empathy and Belonging?”

Peggy Seiden, Swarthmore College librarian, and Katie Price, Associate Director, Lang Center

Friends, Peace, and Sanctuary (FPS) was a two-year project (2017–19) funded by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage that sought to address antipathy toward refugees and create a greater sense of belonging for recently resettled Iraqis and Syrians through art that was based in historic and contemporary stories of displacement, migration, and resettlement. FPS brought together world-renowned book artists and a community of more than 20 Iraqis and Syrians to create works that were exhibited at Swarthmore College and in Philadelphia and New York City.

April 22  “The State of the LGBTQ Movement”

Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force

Fifty years after the Stonewall riots, where is the LGBTQ movement headed? Through HIV/AIDS, anti-violence work, securing some nondiscrimination protections, and winning marriage rights, the LGBTQ movement has been resilient, adaptive, and creative. Now is the time to think expansively about a movement grounded in racial, economic, gender, and social justice—one that allows each person to be “all of me, all the time.” Rea Carey has spent three decades serving in leadership roles in the LGBTQ movement, and is on the boards of the Freeman Foundation and the Flamboyan Foundation.