The Fourth Biennial Seneca Falls Dialogues (SFD), a three-day interactive conference focusing on the continuing struggle for human rights, will take place this year beginning on Friday, Oct. 17. Hobart and William Smith Colleges are sponsors of the event and Professor of Women’s Studies Betty Bayer helped organize the conference as a member of the Seneca Falls Dialogues committee and of the board of Women’s Institute for Leadership and Learning (WILL), one of the conference’s planning partners.
The theme of this year’s conference is “Ecofeminism: Cultivating Place and Identity,” and it will feature as keynote speaker and WILL Award recipient Tanya Fields, founder of the BLK ProjeK. Her talk, “Lettuce Liberate” takes place Saturday, Oct. 18 at 6 p.m. The Sunday brunch keynote speaker will be Jill Tietjen, president of the National Women’s Hall of Fame and co-author of “Her Story: A Timeline of the Women Who Changed America.” Her talk “Women Taking the Lead to Save our Planet” begins at 10:30 a.m.
The event will also include more than a dozen presentations on various topics, to be facilitated by groups traveling from as far away as Kent State and Indiana Universities as well as by faculty from HWS.
Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies Jessica Hayes-Conroy will present “Food, Feminism, and Health: What is Feminist Nutrition?” She will address questions of food production and consumption which have been a focus of feminist scholarship and activism for some time. From concerns about bodily and ecosystem health to issues of access and inequity, food is undoubtedly a feminist concern, notes Hayes-Conroy. Her discussion will focus on what a feminist approach to nutrition should look like, what it could mean to engage in and encourage a feminist practice of nourishment, and how these practices would compare to other alternative food initiatives.
Also as part of Hayes-Conroy’s presentation, members of the Colleges’ upper-level seminar, “Food Feminism and Health” will facilitate a group discussion on the meaning and practice of feminist nutrition. Student facilitators include Elana Gerson ’16, Taylor Amico ’15, Alexandra LaMonte ’17, Molly Naef ’16, Stacey Davis ’15, Hannah Webster ’15, Kate Mendez ’16 and Julia Yenco ’16. Each will briefly present on key lessons from their coursework and will then pose a series of questions to the broader audience for discussion. The students’ questions will seek to move the audience from a general discussion of their individual, food-based concerns toward the collective production of a feminist vision for nutrition theory and practice. The outcome of the session will be a working model for feminist nutrition theory and practice that encompasses the situated concerns of the group.
Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Joel Helfrich will join Lori Gruen, professor of philosophy at Wesleyan University and pattrice jones, an activist, author and educator, in presenting “The Complete Ecofeminist and the Animal Question: Intersections of Veganism, Environmentalism, Social Justice, and Species Rights.” The panel will discuss the significant roles of plant-based diets, social justice, food justice, and the “Animal Question” within ecofeminism. Gruen and jones will also be speaking at HWS on Friday, Oct. 17, from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Geneva Room of the Warren Hunting Smith Library.
Past biennial events have drawn nearly 200 participants, mainly students, professors and women’s studies program directors, and women’s rights activists.
This year, the conference will announce the launching of its online journal Seneca Falls Dialogues Journal, a multidisciplinary, peer reviewed online journal that grows out of the Biennial Seneca Falls Dialogues. Its mission is to extend the dialogue to a broader audience and to invite more voices into the forum. This journal recognizes the importance of creatively engaging diverse tools for feminist activism, particularly those that support dialogues across difference. Submissions will contribute to the Seneca Falls Dialogues commitment to promote leadership, development, nonviolent activism, and the ideals set forth in the 1848 Declaration of Sentiments and the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights.
“The Seneca Falls Dialogues Journal seeks to honor the work of those who came before us as we build an accessible and inclusive publication by Women and Gender Studies students and faculty in the continued pursuit of equality,” explains Bayer.
The Biennial SFD and The Seneca Falls Dialogues Journal are sponsored by Women and Gender Studies affiliates at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Monroe Community College, The College at Brockport: State University of New York, St. John Fisher College, University of Rochester, SUNY Geneseo, Greater Rochester Area Branch of American Association of University Women, and The Women’s Institute for Leadership and Learning.
This year’s conference will take place at The Gould Hotel, in Seneca Falls, N.Y. Registration and additional information is available online. Student registration costs $50. Non-student registration is $125. For those who wish to attend just the dinner and/or brunch, each featuring keynote speakers, tickets for those events can be purchased separately.
The photo above features Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies Jessica Hayes-Conroy.