Next Honors College Lecture to Discuss Global Social Change

Honors alumna Tatu Gatere (B.Arch., cum laude, '10) is a changemaker in Kenya. She cofounded and leads the company Buildher, which equips disadvantaged young women from informal settlements with accredited construction skills. Buildher also provides training on basic business and finance, gender-based violence awareness, sexual health, and leadership, boosting the livelihoods and confidence of the women in the program.
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Honors alumna Tatu Gatere (B.Arch., cum laude, '10) is a changemaker in Kenya. She cofounded and leads the company Buildher, which equips disadvantaged young women from informal settlements with accredited construction skills. Buildher also provides training on basic business and finance, gender-based violence awareness, sexual health, and leadership, boosting the livelihoods and confidence of the women in the program.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Social entrepreneur Rogelio Contreras and historians Laurence Hare and Jared Phillips are taking a new approach to a familiar adage: “Think globally, act locally, compare notes.”

The three professors will present a public lecture, “Global Social Change,” online via Zoom at 5:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 29. If you are interested, please fill out this online form to gain access to the lecture.

The lecture will preview the spring 2021 Honors College Signature Seminar, Global Social Change, which is especially timely as COVID-19 impacts food insecurity, access to affordable healthcare and the economy around the world.

Global social change sounds like a tall order for a lecture and an Honors College course. But when tackling persistent problems, from food insecurity to access to healthcare to affordable housing, it pays to take the long view.

“The idea is to be able to connect problems that are affecting our community with the realities and circumstances of similar problems across the world,” said Contreras, who is the director of social innovation in the Sam M. Walton College of Business. “We want to identify those initiatives that have been successful, either through social innovation, through social enterprise, through a multi-sector collaboration or through corporate social responsibility. We want to study how these initiatives were successful, despite the lack of infrastructure and in many cases, resources that we have access to here in Northwest Arkansas. What are the elements that made them successful and able to scale? We want to learn from them, replicate best practices and also exchange this information and experiences in order to move the needle.”

Tackling Food Insecurity

The seminar will focus on food insecurity, long a problem in the Ozarks and exacerbated by the economic fallout unleashed by COVID-19.

Although there are many heroes in the community working to address this problem daily, food insecurity hovers at 17%, “and for kids it’s even higher,” said Phillips, a teaching assistant professor of international studies in the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences. “How do we slowly chip away at that?”

All three professors emphasized that tackling problems such as hunger takes time, and that change is incremental.

“We teach students to think about small steps but big communities,” said Hare, associate professor of history and director of the International and Global Studies Program in Fulbright College. “Nobody changes the world on their own. We train students to think about social change ecosystems that include government agencies, corporations, nonprofits, foundations, universities. We’re as inclusive as possible to see how they work together, the places where they’re not working together well, and areas where we can improve.”

Arkansas’ GloBal Changemakers

The Global Social Change seminar will connect students with the Arkansas Global Changemakers Initiative, a new collaboration between Walton and Fulbright Colleges that looks at global challenges as they are addressed at the local level.

“Then, we set those issues back into a global framework through dialogue with other communities around the world that are addressing similar challenges,” Hare said.

The initiative provides opportunities for student internships, research, service learning and study abroad. Next spring, Contreras, Hare and Phillips plan to work with university partners and a network of changemakers in Rome and Barcelona, and offer students the opportunity to travel to Barcelona during the May 2021 intersession.

The interdisciplinary nature of the initiative will guide selection of students who apply to participate in the course.

“We see ourselves as training the next generation of changemakers, from different backgrounds, with different majors,” Hare said. “We want them to learn how to work together.”

“Classes like this remind students that this is, especially at a land grant university like ours, part of our DNA,” Phillips said. “We know how to do this, and we can do this very well. A course like this serves to invigorate and excite both the students and the community, and it creates a really fertile environment for collaborative problem solving to emerge.”

Laurence Hare is associate professor of history and director of the International and Global Studies Program in Fulbright College. A specialist in modern German and Scandinavian history, Hare conducts research on transnational processes and border relations.

Rogelio Contreras is director of social innovation at the Department of Strategy, Entrepreneurship and Venture Innovation in the Walton College. He holds a Ph.D. in international studies from the University of Denver and has worked as both an academic and as a consultant in the design and implementation of global social and economic development initiatives.

Jared Phillips is teaching assistant professor of international studies in Fulbright College. He holds a Ph.D. in U.S. history with research on U.S.-Sino relations. He and his wife Lindi run a small farm on the western edge of the Arkansas Ozarks, and Phillips has published on the social history of the Ozark regions. At the U of A, he teaches rural development, peace and human rights and food security.

Signature Seminars Explore Diverse Topics

Global Social Change is one of three Honors College Signature Seminars scheduled for spring 2021. Other topics will include:

  • Conservatism, taught by Jay P. Greene, distinguished professor and chair of the Department of Education Reform in the College of Education and Health Professions.
  • Food Matters, taught by Margaret Sova McCabe, dean of the School of Law; Jennie Popp, associate dean of the Honors College and co-chair of the university’s Service Learning Initiative; and Curt Rom, associate dean for international education within the Graduate School and International Education. 

Deans of each college may nominate professors to participate in this program, and those who are selected to teach will become Dean’s Fellows in the Honors College.

The Honors College brings in leading scholars from other institutions to teach some of these courses, including Timothy Landry, professor of anthropology and religious studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, who will lead a fourth Signature Seminar, Witchcraft, during the January 2021 intersession.

Honors students must apply to participate, and those selected will be designated Dean’s Signature Scholars. The course application is posted online on the Signature Seminars web page. The deadline to apply is Friday, Oct. 30.

About the Honors College: The University of Arkansas Honors College was established in 2002 and brings together high-achieving undergraduate students and the university’s top professors to share transformative learning experiences. Each year the Honors College awards up to 90 freshman fellowships that provide $72,000 over four years, and more than $1 million in undergraduate research and study abroad grants. The Honors College is nationally recognized for the high caliber of students it admits and graduates. Honors students enjoy small, in-depth classes, and programs are offered in all disciplines, tailored to students’ academic interests, with interdisciplinary collaborations encouraged. Fifty percent of Honors College graduates have studied abroad and 100 percent of them have engaged in mentored research.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among fewer than 3% of colleges and universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.

Contacts

Kendall Curlee, director of communications
Honors College
479-575-2024, kcurlee@uark.edu

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