From decolonialism to salsa dancing, SIT posts nearly 100 webinars online for free

July 14th, 2021   |   Critical Conversations, SIT

Two women greet each other as a group of other women look on. Text over the photo says "Critical Conversations Webinar Series with SIT: February 17-May 18, 2021."

If knowledge is power, SIT’s growing catalog of informative webinars is the stuff of superheroes.

Building on SIT’s first Critical Conversations series of more than 50 webinars posted in fall 2020, SIT faculty, staff, alumni, and peers participated in another 40 sessions this spring on topics ranging from colonialism and globalization to Jordanian cooking to salsa dancing in Panama.

The popularity of the series grew significantly, too, with more than 1,500 attendees for the spring conversations, which was nearly twice the fall participation as word of the webinars spread. Participants included colleagues and students from 240 US colleges and universities and 25 international institutions.

“At a time when so many people throughout the world were separated from colleagues, family, friends and communities, these conversations became important connections, bringing us closer to one another through learning and sharing,” said Mory Pagel, vice president for Innovation, Strategy, and Partnerships at SIT. “This ability to come together digitally has been a silver lining during a very difficult time. With just an internet connection, we’re able to meet people across the globe and learn things we may never have had access to before.”

Walter Mignolo
Dr. Walter Mignolo of Duke University during his webinar.

Best of all, the webinars from both series are available online for free to all.

“We welcome anyone from any part of the world with an interest in the work of SIT and World Learning to participate in any webinars,” said SIT President Dr. Sophia Howlett. “We hope that these sessions will leave you feeling more informed about and connected to the Critical Global Issues we face today. All students, faculty, study abroad partners, alumni, staff, and global citizens are welcome to join any sessions that spark their interest.”

The spring series webinars with the strongest participation included two from the Perspectives from the Global South Faculty Lecture Series. In “Decoloniality and the Future of Democracy,” Dr. Taieb Belghazi of SIT and Dr. Walter Mignolo of Duke University consider major decolonial concepts such as modernity/coloniality and the colonial matrix of power as a framework to re-examine the concept of globalization and to revisit current events including COVID-19, the Movement for Black Lives, and the crisis of democracy, through a decolonized lens.

Another in the Global South series, “Gender Politics and Global South Women’s Engagement in Science,” celebrates women in science with a focus on those in Antarctica, Tanzania, and Portugal. SIT panelists María Gowland Sainz and Oliver Nyakunga, and Cátia Magro of CIÊNCIAVITAE discuss the challenges of patriarchy in learning and highlight the unique perspectives brought by women in the fields of biology, environmental science, wildlife management, and conservation.

“This was like being back in the classroom at SIT—loved every minute of it! Thanks so much for this very interesting and timely conversation,” said Michele Raphoon, who earned an MA in international education at SIT and is now program coordinator in the Office of Global Engagement at LaGrange College.

Aicha Cooper
Aicha Cooper, World Learning trustee and SIT Graduate Institute alum, during her webinar.

Several SIT alumni bring their expertise to the webinar series. They include:

  • Jennifer Dulski, an alumna of SIT Brazil who has worked at Facebook, Google, Yahoo!, and Change.org, the world's largest platform for social change, who leads the discussion, “Mobilizing Technology for Social Change and Community-Building.”
  • International Honors Program alumna Maria Agui Carter, founder of Iguana Films and a professor of media arts at Emerson College in Boston, on “Storytelling & Social Change.” In this discussion, Agui Carter talks about her journey growing up as an undocumented immigrant who became an influential filmmaker, writer, and professor.
  • SIT Graduate Institute alumna and World Learning Board Member Aicha Cooper, who talks with World Learning CEO about Cooper’s experiences as a refugee, from living through the Liberian civil war to working in international development with the World Bank. 

The spring series also provides an in-depth look at SIT programs and career paths, with sessions on international careers in social justice; contemporary issues in international education; studying abroad during COVID-19; and a look at decolonizing study abroad as seen through the prisms of identity, privilege and power.

Participants also get a front-row seat for different aspects of SIT’s “not your ordinary” study abroad programs. Among them, Academic Director and world-renowned geologist Dr. Beth Pratt-Sitaula gives an overview of Nepal: Geoscience in the Himalaya; Academic Director Christiane Magnido discusses the semester program Cameroon: Development and Social Change and the virtual internship in Women’s Rights & Resilience in Conflict Situations; and a Jordanian homestay mother teaches us how to make the regional specialty maqlobeh (“upside down”).

Composite image. On the left side five people dancing and on the right a woman in a headscarf cooking.
A salsa dancing lesson (left) and the maqlobeh cooking demonstration (right).

“It was so much fun to be virtually in the kitchen in Jordan with students who had recently been there and those of us who could recall our own kitchen adventures from other places and times,” said Dr. Kim Butler, associate professor of history and Africana studies at Rutgers University and a study abroad alumna of SIT Mexico.

Whether for serious study or just some sum, there’s plenty to learn from these online sessions and plenty more to come as SIT prepares a new series for fall 2021.