Learn More Series

Learn More SeriesEach year, we devote ourselves to investigating a single topic of social importance through our Learn More series.

The effort features nationally renowned speakers, workshops, panel discussions, and reading groups, among other programming. And we encourage the community to participate. In fact, that’s the point!

This rigorous exploration, spread across the entire academic year, is intended to continuously spark new learning, catalyze important conversations among students, staff, and faculty, and supply our community members with the tools to turn theory into action.

Because we’re firm believers in the power of the collective, we encourage community members to submit ideas and proposals for programming related to our annual theme that they believe would engage a broad range of constituents. Please reach out to our office at asand@bu.edu for more information. To explore past years’ events, visit our events archive.

To submit programs for our series visit our Program Proposal Page

The 2020–21 Annual Theme: Social Class

As it is each year, the series is divided into four distinct parts, each guided by a single question. Every part features a major speaker and is surrounded with a variety of related events and D&I-hosted programming, designed to build off one another. See the timing and framework below:

What is it?

What do we know and understand social class to be? What has informed our understanding?

To help answer this question, we have invited speaker Nancy Isenberg, who will be giving a talk entitled History of Class in America on September 16, 2020.

Historian Nancy Isenberg kicks off our series tackling the question of “what is social class?”. She will present the history of the class system in America, extending from colonial times to the present. Surveying political rhetoric and policy, popular literature and scientific theories over four hundred years, Isenberg will analyze the assumptions that liberty and hard work ensured social mobility within our nation’s history.

How does it work?

How has social class as an issue been constructed, organized, and understood within society?

To help answer this question, we have invited speaker Paul Farmer who will be giving a talk entitled Social Class: a Global Perspective on September 23, 2020.

Medical anthropologist and physician Dr. Paul Farmer will examine poverty and justice from global humanitarian perspective. He will discuss his experience providing direct health care services, and researching and advocating behalf of those who are sick and living in poverty.

Where does it manifest?

Where do we see issues of social class exhibited within our society?

To help answer this question, we have invited speaker Dalton Conley who will be giving a talk entitled Construction and Understanding of Social Class on October 21, 2020.

Sociologist Dalton Conley will examine the effects of socioeconomic inequality across generations and how these inequalities have accumulated over the course of history leading to discrepancies in wealth and access for people of color. Dr. Conley’s talk seeks to provide understanding surrounding the manifestations of social class in our society.

Speaker Nikole Hannah-Jones will also join in on this question and will be giving a talk entitled Class in American Society on February 10, 2021.

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Nikole Hannah JonesPulitzer Prize winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones will analyze the question “where do we witness the manifestation of class within our society?” through the lens of education and housing, two of the most intimate areas of American life. In conversation with Provost Jean Morrison, Jones will chronicle and discuss the ways in which official policy has created and maintained class distinctions and offer ways to advance greater equity within our communities and schools.

How do we interrupt it?

What are concerns and/or interventions we might consider when addressing issues of social class? How do we or should we enact different behaviors to create a more equitable and just environment?

Join us for speaker Anthony Jack who will be giving a talk entitled The Privileged Poor on April 1, 2021.

 Dr. Anthony Abraham Jack will discuss how class and culture shape how undergraduates navigate college and shed new light on how inequity is reproduced. Jack will discuss the social and personal costs of exclusion on undergraduates’ opportunities and social well-being. As our final speaker in the series, Dr. Jack will analyze how higher education can enact different behaviors to create a more equitable and just environment? Register for talk

We look forward to hearing what you have to say on the subject!