Inauguration Teach-In Engages Students in the Political Process

Presidential elections, particularly close and divisive ones like the one in 2016, often inspire conversations about many important issues affecting the United States and the world. In an effort to engage our students in many of these topics, LMU will take up the pedagogical challenge of this particular historical moment with an Inauguration Day Teach-In. This event is an opportunity for the LMU community to come together to witness the presidential inauguration and then to participate in critical discussions around a variety of different topics in breakout sessions facilitated by faculty and staff.

CFA sponsored a number of events as part of the larger teach-in effort around campus. The Theatre Arts Department sponsored two events called the Ghost Light and Sanctuary Projects, designed to create a “light” for dark times ahead, and to make, or renew, a pledge to stand for an protect the values of inclusion, participation, and compassion for everyone regardless of race, class, religion, country of original, immigration status, (dis)ability, age, gender identity, or sexual orientation. Participants were invited to share their experiences, and discuss why they were committed to providing a light for those who may be in need. One student, herself an immigrant, was brought to tears as she talked about her love for America and the importance of not being judged based on racial grounds, an experience she fled in her country of origin.

The Studio Arts Department, along with Theatre Arts and Ethnic & Intercultural Studies, sponsored the Last Day, First Day Program in the Thomas P. Kelly Student Art Gallery. The exhibition featured letters to Barack Obama as he exited the U.S. presidency, and letters to Donald Trump as he entered the presidency, as well as ART, graphics, maps, articles and other texts examining the recent election and problems in determining truth. In addition to the exhibition, the exhibit featured a performance, Q&A panel and a screening of Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States.

The Department of Art and Art History had its keynote address for the KaleidoLA Speaker Series on Inauguration Day. Josh Kun, MacArthur Fellow and Professor of Communication at USC addressed the crowd, discussing the ways in which the arts and popular culture are conduits for cross-cultural exchange in the context of the new administration. Instructor Michael Dooley also gave a presentation, “History of Political, Protest, and Propaganda Graphics,” during his History of Design class.

During the Ghost Light Project, Theatre Arts Lecturer Neno Pervan, who immigrated to the United States over two decades ago, voiced a common sentiment, saying, “I’m standing here tonight to fight for people in this country who don’t have a voice to fight for themselves. I stand here for the man I was 24 years ago when I first came to this country.”

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