University Scholars Series Continues March 22

SJSU’s University Scholars Series continues March 22, from noon to 1 p.m. in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library, Room 225/229 with a lecture by Associate Professor Shannon Rose Riley, who will discuss her book “Performing Race and Erasure: Cuba, Haiti, and US Culture, 1898-1940.”

When Riley was a graduate student at the University of California, Davis – with a background in fine arts, performance art and video, among other artistic disciplines – a conversation with a respected colleague more than a decade ago encouraged her to follow her passion for the nations of Cuba and Haiti and their impact on American arts, culture and society.

Riley said the spark that led to her book grew out of a conversation she had with the late Marc Blanchard, a highly regarded UC Davis comparative literature professor, who was impressed with her passion on the subject.

“I was talking about my belief that those countries, which are on opposite sides of the Windward Passage and provide a corridor for travel between the U.S. East Coast and the Panama Canal, have had a major impact on culture in the United States,” Riley said.

The proximity has been significant to the nation’s artistic culture as well as perceptions of race and racial relations in the U.S. Riley’s interest in the Caribbean grew out of a trip she made to Haiti through the Art Institute of Chicago as a young art student.

Sharon Rose Riley poses for a photograph at San Jose State University, on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017. Riley will be participating in the Spring University Scholars Series. (Photo: James Tensuan, '15 Journalism)

Sharon Rose Riley poses for a photograph at San Jose State University, on Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017. Riley will be participating in the Spring University Scholars Series. (Photo: James Tensuan, ’15 Journalism)

Campus Reading Program Author Stevenson to Speak at Hammer Feb. 24

Flier about Stevenson Talk

Flier about Stevenson Talk

Bryan Stevenson, the author of “Just Mercy“, the SJSU Campus Reading book selection for 2016-17, will be speaking on campus Friday, Feb. 24, at noon, at the Hammer Theatre Center, 101 Paseo de San Antonio. Find more information and get free tickets online – students, faculty and staff are invited to attend.

Mercy’s book chronicles his years in law school and as a practicing attorney in the South when he worked to defend death row inmates. The book is marked by his personal reflections and descriptions of the people he defended. The book tackles issues of race, poverty and social justice in the United States. The event is sponsored by the Campus Reading Program, Campus Life, the Office of Diversity, the Office of the Provost, the NAACP, the Center for Literary Arts and Silicon Valley Reads

Other upcoming events related to the Campus Reading Program this spring include:

  • DEFAMATION – LIVE COURTROOM DRAMA!

Thursday, Feb. 23, at4:30 p.m.
Student Union Theatre

We are proud to be co-sponsoring this event with our friends at MOSAIC and Justice Studies.  Attend an interactive theatrical drama that explores race and class inequities and injustices in the American judicial system.  DEFAMATION will be performed at the Student Union Theater.  (Then, two days later, come hear Bryan Stevenson address these topics in person at the Hammer Theatre!)

  • A TALK with SHAKA SENGHOR, AUTHOR of “WRITING MY WRONGS”

Thursday, March 23, at 1:30 p.m.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, Room 225

In collaboration with our partner Silicon Valley Reads, we invite you to a talk by an author on a related subject-one man’s struggle while caught up in America’s mass incarceration epidemic.  Shaka Senghor, author of “Writing My Wrongs”, will appear at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library on Thursday, March 23 at 1:30 p.m. in MLK 225.

  • “A REACTION to BRYAN STEVENSON’S  JUST MERCY”

Tuesday, April 18, at 4 p.m.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library Room 225

Khalid White from the African American Studies Department will give a presentation, “A Reaction to Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy.

Show Your Spartan Spirit at Feb. 25 Interdivisional Competition

Event flier

Event flier

SJSU staff and faculty are invited to attend the second annual interdivisional competition Feb. 25 at the Spartan Women’s Basketball game against Boise State, in the SJSU Event Center. Doors open at 1 p.m. and the game starts at 2 p.m. RSVP online.

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Andy Feinstein and Vice President for Student Affairs Reggie Blaylock launched the event last year when they competed to see which division could fill more seats in the stands during a women’s basketball game. Faculty and staff, along with their families, were invited to attend. The pair provided a meal and lots of entertainment throughout the evening, including a free throw competition, a cheer off and a relay race. At the end of the evening, Academic Affairs was crowned victorious for the evening’s competition and Provost Feinstein accepted a trophy on behalf of the division. This year’s event promises even more fierce competition as invitations have been extended to include University Advancement and Administration and Finance colleagues – all four divisions will compete to take home the trophy and the title of most Spartan Spirit.

April Newsletter: Provost Update – SJSU Celebrates Diversity and Promotes Inclusion

University settings bring together people from many different backgrounds in a collaborative environment. This is especially true at SJSU, where we have one of the most diverse campuses in the nation. This month’s newsletter highlights the many ways our life experiences influence our interactions, creating a rich climate for innovation and learning for all members of the SJSU community.

For the past two years, I have been privileged to serve as co-chair of the President’s Commission on Diversity. We have made strides in fostering a dialogue around diversity and inclusion, most recently in April when we held a discussion on the 2015 Campus Climate Survey. Students, staff and faculty members were invited to a presentation on the survey results and then provided with an opportunity to share their feedback in focus groups, while also expressing thoughts on moving toward a more inclusive community. This month also marks the appointment of the first-ever SJSU chief diversity officer, Dr. Kathleen Wong(Lau). She will lead the Office of Diversity and Inclusive Excellence. I invite you to join us in finding ways to advance our efforts together.

As provost, I am especially proud of the African American and Chican@/Latin@ Student Success task forces, which have been working hard for more than two years to build a sense of community for underrepresented minority students. The task force members have hosted a multitude of activities, such as the Adelante study breaks and the Essence of Blackness cultural celebration. These task forces began as part of Academic Affairs, but are now moving to Student Affairs where they will be managed by the new AVP for Retention and Transition Services. I remain committed to these efforts and this realignment will allow us to more effectively support student success priorities across divisions. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the staff and faculty members who have served on the task forces, and encourage all of you to join this collaborative effort to connect students to the campus in meaningful ways.

In Academic Affairs, we have also been building more opportunities for students to engage in international experiences through faculty-led programs, online exchanges in on-campus classes and research projects with overseas partners. We recognize the growing relevance of global citizenship in educating college students. Global citizenship encompasses an ability to work with people from around the world, but it also creates empathy between people with different backgrounds, experiences and histories. I encourage you to learn more about how we can provide students with these opportunities by connecting with colleagues in the College of International and Extended Studies.


Andy Feinstein
Provost and VP for Academic Affairs

Professor Connects Science and Philosophy in Research

Dr. Janet Stemwedel will present at the University Scholars Series on April 20. Here, she is shown during a discussion at a Science Online conference.

Dr. Janet Stemwedel will present at the University Scholars Series on April 20. Here, she is shown during a discussion at a Science Online conference.

Dr. Janet Stemwedel received a PhD in chemistry before she realized her true interest was in philosophy.

“A long time ago, when I was 21, I was sure I was going to be a chemist when I grew,” she said. “Then, because I realized that the questions that kept me up at night – like about how humans, with our limited sensory apparatus and our comfortable biases, can manage to build reasonably accurate knowledge about our world – were really philosophical questions, I went back to school to get a PhD in philosophy so I could focus on the philosophy of science.”

Stemwedel, the chair of the Philosophy Department in the College of Humanities and the Arts and the director of the SJSU Center for Ethics, will be presenting the final University Scholars Series lecture of the spring semester on Wednesday, April 20, from noon to 1 p.m., in MLK 255/257. She will be talking about recent research that explores the ethical dimensions of being a good scientist that extend beyond avoiding or responding to scientific misconduct.

While philosophy of science research has been traditionally focused on what scientists do to build reliable knowledge, Stemwedel has been interested in science as a human activity.

“Scientific knowledge is the result of particular kinds of interactions between human scientists who are also interacting with the piece of the world they’re studying,” she said. “Once you have an activity that requires humans to interact with each other, ethics has to be part of the story.”

Stemwedel maintains a blog on ethics, and has contributed to Forbes.com, most recently on the topic of sexual harassment in the scientific community. Through the blogs, she is able to engage with an audience of working scientists and students from different disciplines and countries who are at various states of their careers.

“They tell me if they think I’m missing an important feature of their scientific interactions, or if they find my ethical prescriptions implausible,” she said. “My audience also brings new questions to my attention, whether they’re from breaking news stories or from issues they’re trying to work out in their own lives as scientists.”

The ultimate goal of her research is to find ways to help scientists to their jobs better and to successfully share their findings with nonscientists.

“There are lots of ways to use philosophical tools – like logic and conceptual analysis – to develop strategies to address challenges in the real world, and lots of different challenges for which having a philosopher – or a college graduate with a philosophy degree – on your team might make a difference,” she said.

Read more about the University Scholars Series online.