The Three S's

Now that classes and finals are over and the community awaits graduation festivities, the campus is quieter and calmer. Although the energy and excitement of the school year will be missed, we now have a chance to reflect on the year. We were very busy here at Radius, sponsoring and co-sponsoring many events that tackled topics ranging from environmental justice and sustainablity to nuclear weapons. While all of these larger events are a significant and vital part of our work, the most intensive, personal and sustained program is the undergraduate ethics seminar that we co-host with the Philosophy Department under the guidance of Professor Sally Haslanger.  I had the pleasure of co-teaching the class with Alex Prescott-Couch, who was a post-doctoral fellow in the department.

This year's class, with 14 enrolled students and a number of "listeners", was engaged, curious, open-minded and open-hearted. We hosted eminent guests from both MIT and beyond to discuss topics that included the role of anger in social change, climate change, the future of employment and work,  "alternative" news and racism. All of our guests helped the students navigate difficult questions and discussion around these issues and encouraged them to give voice to their thoughts and conclusions.  Students were also required to attend three events, either on campus or off, that touch on an ethical issue.

One of our guests, David Howse, Managing Director of ArtsEmerson and Associate Vice President of Emerson College, shared his thoughts on how to talk about race with truth and dignity. He talked about his own journey and how he began to deliberately seek out difficult conversations about race instead of keeping silent and staying angry. He had wise advice for us. To encourage understanding and conversation, he gave us his Three S's: Self-Awareness, Surround yourself with others who are different, and Speak up to initiate and support change.

The last day of class is dedicated to students presenting brief, personal reflections on a topic of their choice. These reflections are always inspirational and moving. Themes were varied: social isolation, criminal justice, diversity and racism, the role and effectiveness of racism, purpose, and the line drawn between work life and private life. Many of the students wove David's Three S's into their presentations. His counsel resonated with all of us and in their final reflections, students commented on how powerful this advice was; not only in talking about race and racism, but other injustices that they are witnessing. We all agreed that this model is one we will take with us and keep in our hearts and minds. 



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