Dean's Seminar Series

  • 10.20.17 | Social Networks, Social Support, and Street Children’s Survival Struggle in Bangladesh
    Md. Hasan Reza | Assistant Professor of Social Work

    Research from low-income countries shows that poverty often threatens the very survival of children from ultra-poor households and often pushes them to the streets. Once on the street, children’s most activities revolve around mitigating hunger and basic needs. A plethora of studies explored street children’s experiences of poverty and street vulnerabilities. However, a fewer studies available that explores the strength, resiliency, and resources associated with children’s street struggles or the factors that inhibit or facilitate the development of resilient responses against insurmountable odds. Being informed by the social networks literature, this qualitative project explores street children’s social relationship formation processes and explains the roles social relationships play in managing poverty and other vulnerabilities. I have asked primarily three questions: 1) How do Bangladeshi street children create, maintain, and use social relationships or networks? 2) What are the social resources available in children’s networks? 3) How do resource exchanges help mitigate their survival? Findings showed that children form and maintain strong social networks and use them extensively in their everyday life. Findings also showed that despite horrific circumstances, support from social ties make life bearable and even sometimes enjoyable for many children. Acquisition and exchange of resources mostly occur through three types of relationships that emerge with street peers. Close friends, friends, and acquaintances are the most important sources of information about economic opportunities, health, and safety issues. Close friends and friends provide a great deal of material assistance in the form of food, small amounts of money, and other essentials. Many network members represent key friendships allowing children to satisfy needs for companionship, play, and emotional support in an otherwise hostile environment.

  • 11.17.17 | Excavating for Community Interest: How Field Schools Create Civic Engagement and Foster Activism
    James VanderVeen | Associate Professor of Anthropology

    Archaeological field schools are a form of apprenticeship, providing students with the skills needed to become professionals in the discipline. But there seems to be an added and unexpected value to the experience. If conducted with intentional collaboration with a community partner, either a non-profit institution like a museum or a governmental agency like a parks department, field schools can also help students become more engaged and informed citizens. Often, these class may lead to an increase in general public activism and volunteerism. The students seem to be more civically engaged and likely to take political action on issues important to them than non-field school students. A standard higher education survey about civic learning outcomes was given to students participating in recent field schools and to comparison classes at the same university. The respondents self-reported their levels of altruism and social activism, openness to diversity, and civic values after taking the classes. Those students who completed field schools showed a higher disposition towards matters that have implications for a fair and just society. Although this was a small scale study, with limited participants, the results are in line with larger, longitudinal studies of civic learning in higher education. The power of an archaeological field school can be more than an investigation into the past and training of specific excavation and analytical skills. It can also be positively linked to the development or increase of commitments to social and political concerns.

  • 02.16.18 | Power, Patriarchy and Persecution: An Analysis of Gender-based Asylum Claims
    Christina Gerken | Associate Professor of Women's and Gender Studies

    Millions of asylum seekers and refugees try to escape persecution, poverty and conflict every year. Most recently, the Syrian refugee crisis has dominated the global media and challenged European governments to rethink their immigration policies. While the U.S. has only admitted a select few Syrians, the debate over who is deserving of political asylum and how we can select the worthiest applicants is just as divisive as it is in Europe. One of the groups that is at the forefront of the debate in the U.S. is unaccompanied children from Central America.

    Contrary to the common misconception that they are illegal immigrants in search of a better life, recent data suggests that the majority of these young migrants are fleeing various forms of violence and abuse. Yet despite a potentially valid need for international protection, they struggle to navigate an adult-centered asylum system. My presentation will focus on unaccompanied girls fleeing from gang violence and examine the legal framework that continually devalues their bodily integrity and fails to recognize that sexual violence can be a form of persecution.​​