The 2008 Social Justice Conference: April 14-18 – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

The 2008 Social Justice Conference: April 14-18

From inspired artwork to open mic performances, to panel discussions and films, the 2008 Social Justice Conference will provide thought-provoking, engaging and enjoyable opportunities for all to explore issues surrounding social justice.

Sponsored by the HWS Social Justice Collective, the weeklong conference, titled “Social Justice: Building Community and Envisioning Possibilities,” has the goal of inspiring work devoted toward realizing an egalitarian community for members of the HWS and greater Geneva community.

“It is my hope that the conference will help members of our campus and our community to develop more-inclusive worldviews, and that their actions, especially toward one another, will reflect this,” said Christie Police '08, a member of the Social Justice Collective. The Collective consists of 12 members, including students, faculty and staff with diverse backgrounds and perspectives who all have a common goal: to draw awareness to social justice issues that are sometimes not publicized and to bridge gaps in communication within our community.

The conference is the brainchild of Assistant Professor of Education Cerri Banks who sought to bring to life the lessons of her course 'Social Foundations of Multiculturalism.' Banks applied for and received a grant through the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) in the fall of 2007.

“Professor Banks wanted to provide her students with the opportunity to take the concepts and theories that they had learned about and put them into action, making them present and visible within the community,” said Susan Pliner, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning. Each year, the Center invites faculty members to submit project proposals that support faculty teaching initiatives and that enhance teaching and learning at HWS. Pliner further asserts that “This grant has really taken off and has allowed her work with students to extend well beyond the classroom.”

“It's vital that as a community we openly discuss ways in which barriers, cultural, socio-economic, racial and gender, can be eroded,” said Banks. “The Social Justice Conference is an opportunity for all of us to gather to have that conversation.”

During the evenings of Monday, April 14 through Friday, April 18, the Social Justice Collective invites members of campus and the local community to participate in events designed to open minds and perspectives. The nightly schedule is as follows:

On Monday, April 14, the conference will begin with a student-created, eye-opening film screening addressing social class. The video, which was produced by the Social Justice Collective, includes interviews with HWS students, faculty and community members. The screening will be in Albright Auditorium, with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. The film will begin at 7:00 p.m. with a discussion to follow. Popcorn and beverages will be served.

Focusing on panelists' life experiences with social justice and providing an avenue for open dialogue, the evening of Tuesday, April 15 will include three discussion panels composed of various members from campus and the community. The panelists represent a range of personal, professional, academic, and social experiences. The panels will take place in Stern Hall with doors opening at 6 p.m. for appetizers and conversation and discussions beginning at 6:30 p.m.

Contributions of creative self-expression in the forms of song, dance, poetry and painting will be on display Thursday, April 17 at Open Mic and Art Night, providing a platform for contribution and self-expression. Collaboration with the Arts Collective has enabled an evening that will allow participants to artistically express their experiences with and feelings surrounding social justice. The show will begin at 7:30 p.m. at 380 South Main Street Apartments in the upstairs ballroom. If you have or would like to create an art project to donate for display, please

The conference will conclude on Friday, April 18, with a dinner/fundraiser at the Red Dove Tavern in downtown Geneva. All proceeds will go to the Life Skills Program, an organization that prepares Geneva high school students for college.

For information on participating in this event, email

With the exception of the Red Dove Tavern dinner/fundraiser, all Social Justice Conference activities are free and open to all.

For more information on the Social Justice Collective, go to their Web site.