The Dean’s Research and Creativity Forum, held earlier today, focused on the theme of healing both within the broader Gonzaga community and within respective areas of the College of Arts and Sciences. In light of the recent hate crime committed against the Black Student Union, the discussion was more relevant than ever.
Around noon, the event began. Kevin Brown, adjunct professor of religious studies, opened up the session by first thanking the members who made this event possible, such as the moderators, honored the Spokane tribe and recognized the land the university stands upon. From there, he led into describing the purpose of this forum.
Brown made it a point to remind viewers of the effects the pandemic has had upon Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities across the world and the importance of healing in these turbulent times.
Following that, the panel of university faculty held individual presentations grounded in their respective fields of studies.
Timothy Westerhaus, associate professor of music and director of choirs, tag teamed with associate professor of religious studies Gloria Chien in the first presentation.
Westerhaus and Chien discussed the importance of music for students' mental health and how it can lead to creating empathies for other individuals. The two led the group through a guided meditation exercise, including a piece performed by a GU choir and a reflection afterwards.
The second presentation was hosted by Raven Maragh-Lloyd, assistant professor of communication studies, presenting on how healing can be achieved in the digital sphere. Maragh-Lloyd posited that in order to reach healing, we must break out of echo chambers and take care to amplify the voices less heard over social media.
“Who are the people, the companies are we engaging with most, and who do we need to reach out to amplify?” Maragh-Lloyd said.
The third presentation was hosted by Brian Cooney, professor of English and director of the Center for Public Humanities (CPH). In his presentation, Cooney discussed the CPH’s work with Black Lives Matter and the concept of “The Tyranny of The Universal” — illustrating it later on with “All Lives Matter.”
The final presentation was held by Brian Henning, professor of philosophy and environmental studies. His focus was on the ongoing climate crisis and the importance of integral ecology, explaining how the current business models are failing the environment and internet trolls harming BIPOC communities.
Participants of the forum were then placed into 10-minute breakout rooms, where they were asked to discuss how their disciplines and expertise can contribute to healing in the GU community.
This was followed by a Q&A session with the panel after all members returned to the main room.
Panelists were asked questions regarding a range of topics within social justice.
“Anger is absolutely necessary and important," Maragh-Lloyd said when asked about how anger plays a role in this time. "In terms of what to do with it, don’t stifle it. Find a productive outlet for your anger while recognizing that your anger is accepted in a different way than another person.”
Brown concluded the forum with compliments toward the presenters and an examination of how we can all strive to achieve the common good on campus.