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Weighing In

3/30/17

By Mabinty Quarshie | USA Today

"When Bill O'Reilly insulted Rep. Maxine Water's hair and White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporter April Ryan to "stop shaking your head," the comments by the two white men hit a nerve.

"Black women — who often face a one-two punch of racism and sexism in their daily lives — immediately took to social media using the hashtag #BlackWomenAtWork to air out their grievances, including those about other women.

" 'The things that black women need to push for are quite different than what we think of as the mainstream feminist movement,' said Sheri Parks, a professor of American studies at the University of Maryland and author of Fierce Angels: The Strong Black Woman in American Life and Culture."

Read the complete article at USA Today

3/7/17

By Tom Hall & Bridget Armstrong | Midday on WYPR

"The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities are two of 17 federal agencies that appear to be targeted by the Trump administration for elimination, as its budget inclinations lean heavily toward defense spending. The state of Maryland funded arts institutions at the highest level ever last year, and the Governor has proposed an additional $1 million this year, bringing the allocation for the arts to $21 million in Fiscal Year 2018. Ironically, Baltimore City Schools are facing drastic cuts. Principals looking to trim expenses, may have to make cuts to music and visual arts programs. 

"An organization called Arts Every Day is holding a symposium this weekend that will call attention to the role that arts education plays in boosting attendance, improving test scores and making schools vibrant parts of their communities.

"Tom and Dr. Sheri Parks speak with arts educators and advocates about what the arts can do for kids and their families. They also talk about the cost of funding arts programs and if that cost is worth it when belts are being tightened locally and nationally."

Listen to the complete podcast: Midday on WYPR

1/26/17

By Christine Condon and Danielle Ohl | The Diamondback

"President Trump plans to defund the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities, a move that could jeopardize funding for the arts and humanities at the University of Maryland and in this state.

"A Jan. 19 report in The Hill detailed a meeting between White House staff and Trump's transition team, who fleshed out a plan to cut back on bureaucracy and government spending. The plan included eliminating the two endowments, which have granted this university about $2.5 million for research, performances and projects since 2010.

" '[The NEH and NEA] have been important in a lot of ways,' said arts and humanities college Dean Bonnie Dill. 'They are a very important part of the work that we do.' "

Read the complete story online at The Diamondback.

Image: The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. (File photo/The Diamondback).

1/19/17

By Dan Rodricks | Roughly Speaking Podcast

In this podcast, culture commentator Sheri Parks talks about the transition from Obama to Trump, and Friday’s inauguration.

Listen to the complete podcast online at Roughly Speaking.

The Center for Synergy in the College of Arts and Humanities (ARHU) has received a $100,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to fund “Home Stories,” a digital storytelling project that empowers migrant youth to create and share their stories with the wider public.

The award is part of NEH’s inaugural Humanities Access grants, which provide cultural programming to underserved groups and were awarded to 34 organizations. The grant is designed to encourage fundraising and sustainability of ongoing programming.

The project co-directors are Ana Patricia Rodríguez, associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese in the School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures and Sheri Parks, associate dean of research, interdisciplinary scholarship and programming and associate professor of American studies.

The project responds to the growing number of often-unaccompanied migrant youth who travel to the U.S.-Mexico border and eventually seek to reunite with families, relatives or friends who live in the long-standing Central American communities near the University of Maryland. These newcomers navigate multiple identities but rarely have the opportunity to reflect on or share these experiences. Despite the scale of youth migration to this area, there is little research or ethnographic work generated about or by these youth.

“We are living in a historical moment where there is an explosion in migration,” says Rodríguez.  “Digital storytelling is a way of uncovering these stories and making them accessible to a wider public, and it is something that anyone can learn.”

“Home Stories” extends the Center for Synergy’s ongoing Social Innovation Scholars Program into the public humanities. Through the project, undergraduate students at the University of Maryland will enroll in a multi-semester course with Rodríguez to learn about the migrant experience while collaborating with migrant youth from local middle and high schools to explore digital storytelling.  Digital stories are multimedia movies that combine voiceovers, video, sound and text to create a narrative. Both in and out of the classroom, they are a tool for not only developing technical skills, but also promoting self-reflection and critical thinking.

“The project is a way of connecting students who have the technological skills with migrant youth in communities who have important stories to tell,” says Rodríguez.  “Digital storytelling is a democratizing tool that allows these stories to be created and shared across communities.”

The project will work with youth in local schools that enroll large numbers of recently arrived migrant youth from Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean and culminates in a community screening of the filmed stories these youth produce, which will then be available on a public website.

“The humanities help us study our past, understand our present, and prepare for our future,” says NEH Chairman William D. Adams. “The National Endowment for the Humanities is proud to support projects that will benefit all Americans and remind us of our shared human experience.”

 

Image Credit:
Close up of Child Migrant Quilt Project (September 2014)
© Ana Rosa Ventura-Molina 2014

11/11/16

Tom Hall | "Midday" WYPR

"On November 8th, voters chose Donald Trump to be the next President. As Americans come to terms with the idea of a Trump presidency, many questions still remain. What does the election of Donald Trump tell us about our country’s apparent embrace of unprecedented change, and what does it tell us about what Americans are repudiating? Is this a repudiation of civility in politics?  Is it an embrace of isolationism, and a repudiation of tolerance? Is it, as Mr. Trump suggested early this morning, a cry from those who have been forgotten, or is it a mean-spirited and fear-fueled affirmation of a system that favors white people over people of color? "

Listen to the complete postcast on WYPR

Image: Hillary Clinton supporters emotional at campaign headquarters. Via WYPR.

 

10/20/16

Dan Rodricks | The Baltimore Sun Roughly Speaking Podcast

"Sun columnist Dan Rodricks and American culture commentator Sheri Parks talk about Wednesday night's third and final (and nasty) debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Sheri Parks is an associate dean at the University of Maryland, College Park and a regular contributor to Roughly Speaking. "

Listen to the complete podcast here.

3/22/16

By Ashley O'Connor, The Diamondback

Photo courtesy of Victoria Robinson

In light of the 50th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities government agencies, a panel met with the University of Maryland's arts and humanities college to discuss the agencies' status and their place in the future.

Jane Chu, the 11th chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, and William Adams, the 10th chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, joined Bonnie Thornton Dill, the arts and humanities dean, for the discussion Tuesday evening at the Gildenhorn Recital Hall in the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center.

"We want all Americans to have an opportunity to be involved in the arts," Chu said.

Sheri Parks, the college's associate dean for research, interdisciplinary scholarship and programming, moderated the conversation in front of about 40 people.

Parks asked the panelists how they believe the arts and humanities can be better integrated in today's society, in which the arts are commonly cut out of school budgets. Entering her current position, Dill said, she had to explain the value it has for students, families and future generations.

Chu said a major problem in declining arts education programs is a lack of participation.

"Eleven million Americans want to participate in the arts, but don't," she said.

Many people who have mobility difficulties could have trouble getting to arts and humanities centers, or feel there are challenges to bringing kids to access the arts, but these barriers can be broken down, Chu said. She mentioned she would like to see arts programs implemented in all public schools.

It's important to show that art education not only provides a skill set, but can also be correlated with better performance in other classes, Chu said. For example, she said, a recent study revealed a correlation between art classes and higher grades in science classes.

"The pipeline is about making kids able to think wisely and be creative, not necessarily like the arts," Chu said.

Read more here.

3/22/16

Written by Tom Hall & Rob Sivak, WYPR

If it’s true that every person has a story, is it also true that every city has one too?  What is Baltimore’s Story?  What narratives have emerged since the traumatic events following the death of Freddie Gray, and what do those narratives tell us about Baltimore’s identity?  Such questions are at the core of a new series of public events beginning Wednesday called Baltimore Stories: Narratives and the Life of an American City.

Joining Tom in the studio with a preview of this innovative, community-driven series are two of its guiding lights:  Sheri Parks, Associate Dean at the University of Maryland's College of Arts and Humanities in College Park, and Dr. Phoebe Stein, Executive Director of the MD Humanities Council.

Read more and listen to podcast  here 

The Baltimore Stories project has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and is a collaboration between the University of Maryland, Maryland Humanities Council, the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Enoch Pratt Free Library and the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance.

To learn more: go.umd.edu/BmoreStories

12/6/15

By Sydney Tonic, The Diamondback

Photo Courtesy of Victoria Robinson

The arts and humanities college partnered with the Office of Diversity & Inclusion and the Office of International Affairs to foster a discussion about the ongoing refugee crisis in the country and what students at this university can do to help.

Sheri Parks, the director for the Center for Synergy and the associate dean for research and interdisciplinary programming in the arts and humanities college, organized the “Thinkathon,” hoping to implement a “think and do” model to involve students in the discussion.

About 15 students gathered for the workshop Friday morning in Stamp Student Union.

“We believe that, along with faculty and staff, students care about major issues of our time, such as the refugee crisis,” Parks said. “We have students here who have been refugees or are the children of refugees.”

Yasmine Taeb, a legislative representative for human rights and civil liberties at the Friends Committee on National Legislation, spoke about the crisis and its human impact at the event. She said the present crisis is devastating and more than 8 million refugees are internally displaced in Syria.

As part of the committee, Taeb lobbies and advocates about refugee-related issues with congressional offices in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. 

“Refugees coming to the U.S. are by far the most scrutinized community of entrance to the U.S.,” Taeb said. “We just don’t feel as though the U.S.’s response to the crisis has been adequate; their response has been quite tepid, at best.” 

Hiba Salih, program manager for youth and health at the International Rescue Committee in Baltimore, and Tyler Stoddard, its development coordinator, also came to talk about the work they do for refugees. Salih, a former refugee from Sudan, explained the difficulties of the life of a refugee coming to this country.

“The major challenges are the trauma that they have been through,” Salih said. “Having to adapt to a new country, new systems … they haven’t seen civilization.”

Read more here

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