Today Fordham’s Public Voices scholars convened for the third time at Fordham’s Lincoln Center campus for a fully packed day-long session led by our illustrious team leaders Zeba Khan, Abby Ellin and Catherine O’Neill Grace, the last of whom “came on like gangbusters” (as some scholars warmly noted) to lead her first ever Public Voices session. In other exciting news, the day was documented by Emmy-award winning filmmaker Mary Olive Smith, with our very own Deborah Siegel hosting individual on-camera interviews with each scholar—all as part of the upcoming Public Voices Fellowship video.
[Catherine O’Neill Grace, welcome aboard!]
The convening began with a Gathering and Sharing session, when scholars reflected on their experience as Public Voices fellows and leaders marveled at the incredible increase in Fordham successes in the last quarter, during which it practically “rained op-eds.” Several scholars gratefully noted the crucial role the OEP played in jump-starting their passion and personal investment in writing these opinion-driven pieces, referring to the OEP as “freeing” and important in helping one “prioritize her own happiness” above more impersonal, goal-oriented aspects of professional life.
The majority of the day was devoted to “going off the page,” furthering the expansion and empowerment of underrepresented voices by exploring new media platforms, such as TED Talks, TED-Ed, MAKERS, and other interactive visual and spoken presentations in addition to written op-eds. Major highlights of the convening included guest speakers Jordan Reeves and Stephanie Lo of TED-Ed, who came in to talk about their freshly established and already viral online platform for educational material, make current TED content usable for educators, a project similar to Khan Academy. Jordan and Stephanie encouraged scholars to contribute to TED-Ed and continue the diversification of ideas in the vibrant and constantly expanding TED community.
At around noon, Katie popped in for a surprise visit!
Filmmaker Mary Olive also spoke with the scholars, introducing them to her Emmy award winning work “A Walk to Beautiful,” about women who suffer from childbirth injuries in Ethiopia, as well as “Fixing the Future,” her current work in progress. She also advised scholars on how best to present their ideas and conduct themselves on television and film, including advice on language, energy, appearance, how to create a sound bite and how to be cited in documentaries as an expert.
The session concluded with a peer panel, with scholars sharing their experience in writing, pitching and public appearances. A special point was made to address the underlying structure a female academic must operate within—balancing work, family and other commitments—a much discussed issue throughout the session, and improving this structure by increasing the recognition of the merit of such forays into the public forum as Op-ed writing, thus paving the way for a smoother and more powerful entrance into public venues for future women.
[Fordham scholars, hard at work]
Lastly, an idea for a new app was proposed—the “i-Pitch”—to everyone’s delight.
At the end of the day, scholars came away with a productive exchange of thoughts, a flurry of ideas for potential TED-Eds and Op-eds and a great sense of anticipation for the coming months.