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Annual CUSP educational speaker series returns

Shawn Ginwright (above) is one of the six education lecturers at Mills this year.
CUSP is collaborating with Oakland schools to change education. (Mills Department of Education)

The Center for Urban Schools and Partnerships (CUSP) through the Mills education department brought back the educational speaker series for a 4th year in a row. The series includes six speaker events that discuss a variety of topics surrounding education and social justice.

CUSP was founded in 2011 by the Mills School of Education and connects the education department at Mills to schools in the Bay through different activities, one being the speaker series. The invited speakers all have an interest in improving education. The talks are open to Mills faculty, students and the surrounding community.

Mamphela Aletta Ramphele, a former activist in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, spoke for the series’ first event on Sept. 29. She discussed the importance of building bridges in education between generations in order to bring South Africa forward which can be applied to many of the racial inequalities seen in the world today.

The second event on Oct. 15 , Shawn Ginwright, a resident of Oakland and professor of education at San Francisco State University, spoke about working with youth in communities of color. He believes that schooling can be a joyful and uplifting experience for kids rather than negative and defeating. His experience in community-based activism gave insightful conclusions on making schools an ecosystem for youth to grow.

“If you want to connect with young people, it’s not what you know, it’s what you feel,” Ginwright said. “Working with the heart is saying we need to create space to build hope in schools and organizations.”

The four remaining speakers Daniel Solorzano, Michael Dumas, Laurence Tan and Diane Ehrensaft have topics that range from promoting gender creativity in children to anti-blackness in academia.

Professor of Education Diane Ketelle organized many of the talks. She is enthusiastic for the change that they can encourage in students.

“I would hope that a student who attended a talk would be inspired to think about the issues surrounding our beautiful campus. Outside the campus there are public schools that are struggling, and maybe through attending these talks they would gain some awareness of that,” Ketelle said.

According to Ketelle, the series can be beneficial to not only graduate and undergraduate students, but also to anyone that is dedicated to fighting for justice and creating agency.

“These lectures will have some content that will be personally applicable to students so even though a student isn’t aspiring to work in education, I think the overarching idea is to get them thinking about their own education as well as how they can contribute in our broader community,” Ketelle said.

CUSP has partnerships with charter schools in Oakland and is also hosting narrative workshops, a photo essay contest and a variety of activities in the future to support community on campus and fostering connections to the communities off campus .

The next speakers series is on Oct. 23 in Lisser Hall, featuring Daniel Solorzano from UCLA to discuss racial microaggressions in everyday academic and social spaces.