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Spring 2021 Series

The Swarthmore Discussion Group will hold its Spring Series 2021 remotely, due to the pandemic. The series will consist of four monthly presentations in January, February, March, and April.  SDG will use Zoom for these presentations. For more information on Swarthmore College's course of action with COVID-19, please click here

Jan. 20  "Accountability for War Crimes: Reflections on the Past, Present, and Future"

Sofia Candeias, U.N. Team of Experts on Sexual Violence in Conflict

Candeias will discuss the promotion of accountability for serious crimes committed in wartime. With a special focus on crimes committed against women, Candeias will examine the normative and institutional progress made during the 1990s, and reflect on how the lack of response to recent conflicts in Iraq, Syria, and Nigeria may present a major setback for the pursuit of international criminal justice. Candeias works with the U.N. Department of Peace Operations, where she covers the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Mali, and Nigeria.

Feb. 24  "The Policy, Politics, and Prevention of the Overdose Crisis: Rethinking Responses to the Epidemic"

Lindsay Richardson, medical sociologist and associate professor of sociology, University of British Columbia

The unprecedented public health emergency of the conjoined opioid and overdose epidemics calls for innovative, collaborative, and multifaceted responses. We have yet to produce a plan that effectively matches the scale and scope of the crisis. Richardson will discuss key dynamics of the crisis and draw on core innovations emerging from Vancouver, Canada, and the United States. A research scientist at the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use, Richardson studies the links between poverty, drug use, and health. She has worked for 20 years to build evidence-based change that addresses the catastrophic individual, social, economic, and community cost of drug-related harm.

March 24 "The Role of Ambivalence in the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election"

Catherine Norris, associate professor of pyschology, Swarthmore College
John Blanchar, assistant professor of psychology, Swarthmore College

Feeling both good and bad (i.e. ambivalent) about a political candidate may influence voting behavior. Because ambivalence fails to provide behavioral guidance, it may result in lower voter turn out or otherwise affect conviction or emotional responses to a particular outcome. Norris and Blanchar will discuss an Internet-based study they conducted to examine ambivalent and mixed feelings in the 2020 U.S. presidential election, and how they affected intended and actual voting, and predicted and actual feelings, about the election outcome.

April 21 "The Illusion of Separation: Finding Hope in a Time of Climate Crisis"

Eileen Flanagan, Quaker author, speaker, and activist

Over the past five years, Flanagan has traveled widely, interviewing people on the front lines of environmental racism and climate catastrophe while training several hundred activists working on these issues. She will share engaging stories from her travels as well as what gives her hope at a time when faith in our political institutions is failing. A graduate of Duke and Yale, Flanagan is the award-winning author of three books and scores of articles. Her forthcoming book The Illusion of Separation shows how climate change, while daunting, offers opportunities to address some of the deepest divides in our society. A Philadelphia Quaker, she served for five years as board chair of Earth Quaker Action Team. Today, she helps people make their activism more effective and spiritually grounded.