ICSR begins spring speaker series next month

Herald Staff

The Institute for Citizenship and Social Responsibility, or ICSR, recently announced the lineup for their annual Social Justice Speaker Series.

The series started back in the spring of 2014, according to Judy Rohrer, assistant professor and ICSR director. Rohrer said the original idea of the series was to bring regional scholars and activists to WKU to speak about work they are interested in or currently doing, that are at the intersections of their academic work and social justice.

“It could be that their research intersects with issues of social justice or that they do interesting things in their classroom or that they’re somehow engaging with the community in university partnerships,” Rohrer said.

This spring will bring the series’ third iteration with the theme being Social Justice and Citizenship. Past themes were social justice and the academy as well as social justice and coalition building.

This year’s speakers include Kaila Story, associate professor of Women’s and Gender Studies with a joint appointment in the Department of Pan-African Studies at the University of Louisville, Enid Trucios-Haynes, professor at the Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville and Julie Minich, assistant professor of English and Mexican American and Latino studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

Rohrer said one of the perks of the speaker series are its attempts to pull in regional scholars and activists to speak to display the model of activism happening in the South. Rohrer said this is to work against the assumption that social justice can only work on the west or east coasts.

“It’s important for us, given where we are located, to be showing models of how it [social justice] happens right here, where we are,” Rohrer said.

Rohrer said each of the speakers will be focusing in on different disciplines. Story will be focusing on black queer activism. According to Story’s speaker bio on ICSR’s webpage, her research “examines the intersections of race and sexuality, with special attention to Black feminism, Black lesbians, and Black queer identity.”

Haynes will be speaking on immigration laws as well as Latino and Latina identities. Haynes is a nationally recognized scholar in immigration law and has been in the field for more than 25 years, according to her University of Louisville bio. Haynes’ teaching at the Brandeis School of Law focuses on constitutional law, immigration law, international law and race and the law with an emphasis on issues affecting Latinos.

Minich will be speaking on disability and Chicana fat studies. Minich is the author of “Accessible Citizenships: Disability, Nation, and the Cultural Politics of Greater Mexico,” a book which works “against the common assumption that disability serves primarily as a metaphor for social decay or political crisis,” according to her University of Texas at Austin bio.

Rohrer said this year’s speaker series of social justice and citizenship is to provide greater context and information about hot topics regarding citizenship.

“I think it’s really important to sort of invigorate the political and intellectual conversations here at WKU by bringing folks from other institutions to come in and sort of give us a fresh perspective and new ideas that we can then sort of use both in our teaching and research,” Rohrer said.

Story will start off the speaker series on Feb. 25. All events will be held in Downing Student Union room 3020 beginning at 4 p.m. and ending at 5:30 p.m. All events are swipeable, wheelchair accessible and open to the public.