A delegation of four NYU undergraduate students explored the meaning of social justice and inclusion in higher education through cross-cultural dialog at the Global Leadership Summit in Bloemfontein, South Africa, in July. Vivienne Felix, associate director of experiential learning at NYU Steinhardt, led the delegation, which met with student from Africa, Asia, the European Union, and the US, for a week-long conference.
The summit is the fruit of a long-standing partnership between Steinhardt/NYU CMEP‘ and The University of the Free in South Africa. It was initiated by Teboho Moja, clinical professor of higher education, who formerly served as a Special Advisor to Minister of Education in South Africa, and was an architect of its higher education system after Apartheid.
Moja noted that this year’s delegates were well prepared for the rigors of an academic conference and had good questions to raise with the delegation about equity and change in higher education.
Felix added, “The summit was immersive and experiential and gave our students a special opportunity to wrestle with complex equity and social justice questions that span generations and national contexts. They explored South Africa through a comparative lens, and grew as critical thinkers, activists, and thoughtful citizens of our increasingly connected global society.”
About NYU’s student delegates:
Kiyomi Calloway, a junior at NYU, majoring in drama and languages, gave a paper which discussed the structural framework in US history and higher education. She highlighted the role that student activism and social media can play in creating change.
Bing Chen, an NYU global liberal studies and environmental studies major, gave a presentation that explored strategies for affordability in higher education for low-income students through the Excelsior Scholarship, which enables students to attend college tuition-free at certain two- and four-year colleges in New York State.
Melanie Marich, a sophomore in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication, discussed the role that media plays in different cultural contexts, and the roles the media has played in representing foreign cultures to domestic audiences.
Khirad Siddiqui, a senior in the Department of Applied Psychology, presented a paper that highlighted the work South Asian communities that are doing the work of decolonization by bringing together religious communities and working to understand religious difference.