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University News

Critical Concerns 2016 Examines Women’s Education and Empowerment Worldwide

Woman smiling

Jenny Norberg, author of this year’s first-year reading, The Underground Girls of Kabul, will close out Critical Concerns 2016 on November 11. Photo: Magnus Forsberg

Women’s global education and empowerment are among the many topics students, faculty, authors, and artists will explore during Georgian Court University’s Critical Concerns 2016 observance, held on campus October 4 through November 11. For the past decade, GCU has hosted Critical Concerns events reflecting the Sisters of Mercy’s critical concerns—the earth, immigration, nonviolence, racism, and women. This year, more than a dozen GCU events focus on Women’s Voices in the Jubilee Year of Mercy, the theme selected by Georgian Court organizers.

“GCU faculty member Cynthia Ninivaggi, Ph.D., chaired the committee that worked for more than a year to develop this insightful and thought-provoking program,” said Evelyn Saul Quinn, GCU vice president for mission integration. “Critical Concerns 2016 features world-renowned authorities on the profound challenges women face today obtaining what many consider a fundamental right—an education. Participants will discover that many women throughout the world still have to fight and even risk their lives just to obtain an education. This is true both in developing counties as well as right here in the United States.”

A Full Schedule of Events

The observance of Critical Concerns 2016 is timely as it comes just weeks after the White House launched “Let Girls Learn,” its latest international advocacy initiative. Locally, GCU will explore related issues with the input of featured speakers, filmmakers, and educators, including:

Monique Misenge Mukuna, president of Femme Berceau de l’Abondance (FEBA), and her team will discuss the work they do in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (designated as the rape capital of the world by the United Nations). FEBA, the French acronym for “Women, Cradle of Abundance,” empowers women and girls in their fight against violence and poverty through education, counseling, medical and support services, and programs on economic independence. Their discussion is planned for October 20 at 12:15 p.m.

Mary Louise Miller, RSM, J.D., principal of The Sisters Academy of New Jersey in Asbury Park, will present on Tuesday, November 8, at 2:00 p.m. Sister Mary Louise’s school is dedicated to educating girls from economically challenged families and providing them with the tools to gain access into and success in private high schools and universities. Sister Mary Louise will explore the components of a comprehensive education and its impact on women from a socioeconomically depressed environment.

GCU faculty will discuss Girl Rising, the thought-provoking film from Academy Award-nominated director Richard E. Robbins. The movie features nine unforgettable girls living in developing countries who confronted tremendous challenges and overcame nearly impossible odds to pursue their dreams—film screening and discussion are slated for November 9 at 11:30 a.m.

Oren Rudavsky, producer/director of To Educate a Girl, will examine what it takes for a girl to obtain an education in Nepal and Uganda, two poverty-stricken countries guided by the United Nations’ global initiative to provide equal access to education for all girls. To Educate a Girl will be screened at 6:00 p.m. and followed by a Q&A with Mr. Rudavsky at 7:30 p.m. on November 9.

Mary Mihelic will discuss her Running Girl series of paintings, inspired by the more than 50 Nigerian schoolgirls who made a split-second decision to run for their lives when Boko Haram terrorists attacked their school on April 14, 2014. Ms. Milhelic’s presentation will be held November 10 at 2:00 p.m. Her Running Girl artwork will be displayed at GCU from October 17 through November.

Jenny Nordberg, author of The Underground Girls of Kabul: In Search of Hidden Resistance in Afghanistan, will talk about her book exposing “bacha posh”—the practice of girls masquerading as boys for their entire childhood in order to escape being imprisoned at home and forbidden to attend school. Her presentation and book signing are scheduled for November 11 at 9:30 a.m.

Critical Concerns 2016—Beyond GCU

“This year Critical Concerns will extend beyond our traditional weeklong program,” added Ms. Quinn, whose office is coordinating the events. “GCU, in conjunction with Ocean County College’s Grunin Center for the Performing Arts and the Ocean County Library, will jointly present Beyond the Classroom & Critical Concerns: Global Education for Women. Many of the above programs will be offered on both campuses.”

Numerous Critical Concerns 2016 programs will be offered by educators as well as GCU students. Most sessions are free and all are open to the public. Learn more and register for individual events listed at http://bit.ly/GCU_CritcalConcerns or call the Office of Mission Integration at 732-987-2303.

Aerial view of GCU.

About Georgian Court University

Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is Central and South Jersey’s only Catholic university. GCU is a comprehensive, coeducational university with a strong liberal arts core and a historic special concern for women. As a forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, GCU is known for expanding possibility for more than 2,200 students of all faiths and backgrounds in 35+ undergraduate majors and 10+ graduate programs. The GCU Lions compete in 14 NCAA Division II sports in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC). In 2020, GCU was named a Best Value College by Money.com and a Best Bang for the Buck (Northeast) by Washington Monthly. High student retention and graduation rates also make GCU a Top Performer on Social Mobility on U.S. News & World Reports rankings. The main campus is located in Lakewood, New Jersey, on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court, which is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, also serves students at other locations, such as GCU at HazletGCU at Rowan College of South Jersey–Cumberland Campus, and through multiple online certificate and degree programs.

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