Seated woman speaking at an FRN event while other attendees listen attentively

Network Winter 2023

The 2023 NETWORK WINTER SEMINARS, to be held at the University of the Sacred Heart (Universidad del Sagrado Corazón) in Puerto Rico, will provide a comprehensive study of the power of the individual to affect change, examining this theme from various disciplinary perspectives. The schedule will include plenary sessions where each seminar convener will present an overview of their seminar topic to the entire group of program participants.

Background information on Network Seminars

When & Where

WhenJanuary 9–13, 2023

WhereSan Juan, Puerto Rico

Application Deadline
The deadline has passed

Seminar Schedule. Seminars run Monday to Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with a midday communal lunch. Seminar conveners may adjust the class schedule in response to participant needs. Special events may also be held during the week. Participants are required to attend the full week of seminar meetings and maintain 90% attendance overall.

Seminar Materials. Eligible participants are provided with all required seminar materials (books, articles, laboratory equipment, and entrance fees).

Accommodations & Meals. Limited housing accommodations are provided to participants who live more than 50 miles from the program site. All admitted participants are provided with some meals during the program period.

Application Procedure. Applicants should submit the completed application along with all of the following:

  • A statement of intent that indicates how the seminar participant will apply what is learned at the home institution
  • A current CV
  • A letter of support from either the division dean or department head, who is well-acquainted with the applicant’s area of research
  • Their institutional liaison officer’s approval

This Year's Seminars

“A Pedagogy of Liberation”: Building Abolitionist Sanctuaries in Education

About the Seminar

This seminar examines pedagogies, policies, and practices within the classroom and larger educational industrial complex. A particular emphasis is to identify the ways in which some educators are conditioned to use punishment and retribution as an external motivation and a response to achieve learning outcomes. Key questions for exploration are: How does the educational industrial complex resemble U.S. prisons? What (adverse) impact do punitive philosophies have on exploratory learning and innovation? How does abolition provide an alternative pedagogical approach to build safe and generative learning communities that are just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive? Applying a critical and an intersectional lens, participants will bring their syllabus or institutional handbook to conduct an audit, create a climate assessment, and construct interventions. The goal of this course is to decarcerate the classroom and educational industrial complex by identifying restorative justice practices and abolitionist goals to grading, assignments, course design, and institutional policies that create educational sanctuaries to foster learning, community, and safety.

Learning outcomes are:

  • To understand abolition as an everyday ethic and pedagogical practice.
  • To interrogate the continuities and discontinuities between the educational industrial complex and the prison industrial complex.
  • To challenge punitive responses that undermine learning, community, and safety.
  • To explore alternatives or solutions that generate liberative tools to audit and assess pedagogies, practices, and policies with attention to justice, equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging.
  • To identify restorative justice approaches and abolitionist interventions that decarcerate the classroom and create educational sanctuaries to build community.

About the Convener(s)

Nikia Robert, Ph.D. (she/her) teaches religion at Pomona College (California) and Inside Out courses at local prisons with a focus on womanist theological ethics, critical carceral studies, critical race theory, and public policy. She is a nationally and internationally recognized thought-leader and speaker on the topics of mass punishment, abolition, religion, and Black motherhood, and has been featured on ABC, NBC, and CBS television networks, NPR, and other media outlets. Dr. Robert is recognized among “Women Leading Change” by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and has participated in national dialogue with the US White House Department of Justice under the 44th presidential administration of Barack Obama to advocate for criminal justice reform. Dr. Robert completed a Doctor of Philosophy degree in religion at Claremont School of Theology (California) with a focus on ethics and public policy. She earned a Master of Divinity degree in systematic theology and social ethics from Union Theological Seminary (New York), and a Bachelor of Science degree in information systems and finance from Fairfield University (Connecticut). She holds a certificate in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace from University of South Florida Muma College of Business. Prior to the academy and ministry, Dr. Robert worked for 10 years on Wall Street in public accounting and investment banking. Follow Dr. Robert on Twitter @drnikiasrobert or @abolitionSNCTRY, Instagram @drnikiasrobert, and Facebook @AbolitionistSanctuary, and visit Dr. Robert’s website.

Knowledge: A Critical Reflection on Modernity and its Certainties

About the Seminar

Modernity gave rise to the idea of the rational human who knows and can wield knowledge to master self and their surroundings. Such thinking has been the cornerstone of imperial projects and colonial endeavors. It has also been the driving force of racial capitalism and the Anthropocene—and climate change. The violence unleashed by this conception of the human (who can know and master) and of the non-human (that can be unraveled and instrumentalized) has been catastrophic to the extent of threatening our collective survival. Yet, there are those who, grounded in traditions of being and thinking otherwise, have been posing urgent questions about how we humans relate to ourselves and others. Their efforts open space for disavowed ways of inhabiting this world and invite critical reflection on modernity and its certainties.

This seminar will employ a feminist, abolitionist and decolonial lens to look at the production, circulation and storage of knowledges central to the experience of modernity. It will begin with an exploration of how the human who knows and masters was imagined into existence. And as the week progresses, the conversation will delve into the following questions: what sort of knowledge has this modern human produced, circulated, and archived? What are some of the limits and consequences of knowing? What does it mean to refuse to render ourselves and others knowledgeable? And, particularly for scholars, should ethics guide our narrative practices? Overall, the goal of the seminar is to heed the call to think carefully about what we think we know and to denaturalize knowledge that has worked to dispossess, extract and destroy.

About the Convener(s)

Marie Cruz Soto, Ph.D. (she/her), is a clinical associate professor at NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study and her interests are in imperial/colonial processes of becoming (i.e., in the creation and naturalization of coloniality), and in those struggles to un-become upon which survival sometimes hinges (i.e., in the imagining of a different world). She is particularly interested in the island of Vieques, Puerto Rico, and in how militarized colonialism has shaped the makings of the Viequense community. Her work explores how the long history of violent displacements and dispossessions in the island has ensured a vulnerable and unruly population. Her work consequently engages with the violence of militarized colonialism and with the proposals of anti-colonial and anti-militarism struggles. Cruz Soto is also a peace activist who has participated in Viequense community initiatives, in the organization New York Solidarity with Vieques and in transnational networks of solidarity against US military bases. As part of this work, she has, for example, given public lectures and participated as a petitioner in the United Nations Decolonization Hearings on Puerto Rico. At Gallatin, she teaches courses that delve into feminist and anti-colonial epistemologies, into the workings of the US Empire, into struggles to narrate the past and claim places, and into the formation of communities and the edification and transgression of boundaries. Dr. Cruz Soto earned her Ph.D. and M.A. degrees in history from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Trauma-Informed Pedagogy: Somatic Practices, Discussion Guidelines, and Community Dynamics

About the Seminar

In this workshop, Hannah Bacon and Catherine Cabeen discuss the value and methodologies of Trauma-Informed Pedagogy. Combining somatic practices, discussion guidelines, and community dynamics, this experiential workshop will share approaches to teaching that can support students of all kinds who are grappling with personal and/or systemic trauma. In this workshop, participants will engage in a combination of reading discussions, embodied and somatic practices, and lectures or presentations on various contemporary topics and strategies in trauma studies and trauma-informed, pedagogical practices. These topics include but are not limited to:

  • Secondary or vicarious trauma
  • Reparative pedagogical models that focus on healing rather than discipline
  • Somatic and embodied practices for addressing and healing trauma
  • Framing discussions in ways that do not duplicate harm
  • Overview of the neurobiology of trauma
  • Systemic trauma
  • Strategies of care for teachers in holding space for trauma in the classroom
  • PTSD and the history of the psychological and medical profile of trauma

About the Convener(s)

Hannah R. Bacon, Ph.D. (she/they), is the Ferraro Fellow in prison education and a visiting professor of public philosophy at Marymount Manhattan College (MMM). Her research takes place at the intersection of social and political philosophy, 19th and 20th-century continental philosophy, critical phenomenology of race, gender, and embodiment, carceral theory, and care and social ethics. Dr. Bacon holds a Ph.D. from SUNY Stony Brook and a master’s degree from The New School. At MMC, Bacon teaches classes at MMC’s Manhattan campus, as well as MMC’s two prison education programs at the Bedford Hills and Taconic correctional facilities. The aim of the post-doctoral fellowship is to build bridges between these campuses and higher education communities. Prison education is a crucial register of MMC’s educational identity and of Dr. Bacon’s work as a professor and philosophical thinker. Hannah Bacon’s current work is on social and political forms of systemic trauma and the ethical responsibility we have to others in terms of ongoing forms of traumatic harm.

Catherine Cabeen, MFA (she/her/they/them), is an associate professor of dance at Marymount Manhattan College, as well as an artist, based in New York City. She is a former member of the Bill T Jones/Arnie Zane Company (1997-2005) and was Jones’ assistant choreographer on the original production of Spring Awakening at the Atlantic Theater. She is also a former member of the Martha Graham Dance Company, Richard Move’s MoveOpolis!, and Pearl Lang Dance Theater. In Seattle, where Cabeen was based from 2006-2013, she performed as a guest artist with Donald Byrd’s Spectrum Dance Theater, and the Chamber Dance Company, as well as in her own work.

Cabeen directed Hyphen, an interdisciplinary performance group from 2009-2019. Hyphen received commissions from On the Boards, Spectrum Dance Theater, the American College Dance Festival NW, Bates Dance Festival, the Visa2Dance Festival in Dar Es Salaam, Alsarab Dance Troupe and the Lebanese American University in Byblos Lebanon, Moving People Dance Theater, Pig Iron Theater Company, Arc Dance Company, Lehua Dance Company, and the Cabiri, among others. The New York Times called Cabeen’s Hyphen, “highly kinetic, complex… visually exquisite,” and “beautifully performed.”