Phyllis Bennis: Building Communities of Peace and the Role of Civil Society

Peace is something that has to be fought for, not on the battlefield, but in peoples’ hearts and minds. That was Phyllis Bennis’ main point when she came to Hofstra to give her talk on the role of civil society in fostering peace.

According to Bennis, a writer, activist, and fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, the United States’ military budget will be $568 billion this year, and Nassau County will spend $5 million in taxes to pay for the Pentagon alone, which doesn’t include care for veterans, soldier salaries, or weapons. Bennis pointed out that the money we’re spending on our military could be spent on so many other things that would be far more beneficial to American citizens, such as education and healthcare.

If we want to see any significant change in our society, we have to start locally. Bennis says civil society must start by figuring out how to change the mindset of the powerful, so instead of focusing on military options to foreign issues, the leaders of our nation will turn to diplomacy and peaceful alternatives. This would trickle down to the media’s rhetoric, then to schools and the rest of the nation. That way we as a country can learn to reject the idea that war is our first and best option.

According to Bennis, civil society must define what it thinks foreign policy should look like in a concrete way. If we want peace, our foreign policy has to reflect that by supporting international law and accountability, human rights, and equality for all. This includes recognizing that terrorism can’t be stopped with violence, as more death and destruction will only create more terrorists. Bennis suggests that the best way to fight terrorism is to fight the mindset and circumstances that lead people to seeing terrorism and terrorist groups as their last options.

Bennis takes an idea from historian Howard Zinn that the United States is two countries at once; the one whose power and history is rooted in genocide and slavery, and the one whose people fought against genocide and slavery. But there have always been people who fought against violence in hatred. Now the rest of the world turns to us. We, as members of civil society, have a responsibility to build the movements that will lead to peace.


Monday October 9th – Sunday October 15th

Monday, October 9th

Global Judaisms Lecture III: Between Israel and Argentina: Youth, Gender and Politics – 2:55-4:20 in the Cultural Center Theater

Dr. Ariana Brodsky, president of the Latin American Studies Association and associate professor of history at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, explores the paths taken by young Argentine Jewish women and men as they navigate these politically charged times. Youths who were active in Jewish communal institutions debated whether or not to participate in Argentine political youth groups. Most of them were training to eventually move to Israel, and many of these young Jews chose not to be apathetic to an existing political climate that increasingly viewed young people as agents of change. Presented by the Hofstra Cultural Center

An Evening with Naomi Klein
Time: 4:30-6 p.m.
Location: Fortunoff Theater, Monroe Lecture Center

From the bestselling author of No is Not Enough and This Changes Everything, award-winning journalist and syndicated columnist Naomi Klein in her most recent book, No Is Not Enough, attempts to uncover how we got to this surreal political moment. It is also an attempt to predict how, under cover of shocks and crises, it could get a lot worse, and it’s a plan for how, if we keep our heads, we might just be able to flip the script and arrive at a radically better future. Ms. Klein will also address from her book, This Changes Everything, what we think you know about global warming and the real inconvenient truth that it’s not about carbon–it’s about capitalism.

Tuesday, October 10

The Business Culture of the Mohegan Tribe
4:30-8 p.m., Multipurpose Room, Mack Student Center

Representatives from the Mohegan Tribe Council discuss an array of interesting topics related to business and Native American culture.
The first session, led by Kevin Brown, chairman of the Mohegan Tribe, expounds on the importance and difficulties of cultural awareness when
marketing and conducting business overseas. The second session will be an interactive discussion led by Charlie Strickland, vice chairman of
the Council of Elders, who will sing, drum, and tell stories of the Mohegan Tribe.

Networking opportunity available with refreshments.

Presented by the Hofstra Cultural Center in collaboration with the Hofstra American Marketing Association (HAMA).

This event is free, but advance registration is requested.

Wednesday, October 11th

Elizabeth Kolbert on the Fate of the Earth – The New School, The Auditorium 66 West 12th Street, New York NY 10011 at 7pm (doors at 6:30pm).
Find more information about this event at the following link:

Friday, October 13th

Peace Fellows Being Honored in NYC – Historic Riverside Church, 490 Riverside Drive in Manhattan, 6pm-10pm
Hofstra University’s Peace Action Matters campus chapter will receive the 2017 Don Shaffer Student Peacemaker Award at the 60th Anniversary Peace Action Gala at Riverside Church in NYC On October 13th.
We will be honoring Harry Belafonte with our Life-time Achievement Award. Standing Rock hero LaDonna Brave Bull Allard will be our William Sloane Coffin, Jr. Peacemaker Award recipient, and our emcee will be Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK. Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, will also be joining us as keynote speaker!

Contact Peace Action New York State at for assistance or more information

Saturday, October 14th

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: Professor Vimala Pasupathi will be running a contest for creative work inspired by Claudia Rankine’s book Citizen in conjunction with Rankine’s visit to campus on October 24th. See message from Dr. Pasupathi below, and flyer attached:

We are running a contest for creative work by undergraduates inspired by/in response to Rankine’s book Citizen: An American Lyric.
In order to ensure students have easy access to the book, we have made copies available on reserve at the library and for check out in the Honors College and English department offices. Students do not have to be in HUHC to enter.

As part of promoting the book and the upcoming events with Rankine, I’ve written a couple blog posts about it. I’ve also just published a conversation between me and Dr. Jennifer Henton on Citizen.

The prizes include dinner with Rankine as well as publication opportunities in the literary magazines Font and AMP.

Welcome Back!

Welcome back to a new year filled with many civic engagement initiatives.

The Center for Civic Engagement is working in multiple capacities to forge connections between the university and local, national, and global communities, and to bring opportunities for civic literacy to the campus and local community.

Center for Civic Engagement staff and fellows are currently gearing up for our annual Day of Dialogue on October 26, a daylong event of concurrent presentations, conversations, and film screenings and discussions. This year’s theme is F*** News! Deliberations on Truth, Citizenship, and Democracy, and will feature a number of sessions that explore public discourse around a fundamental democratic institution. Panels and sessions will examine public demand to take down historic statues (“Statues Must be Taken Down, Places Renamed”), the impact of digital literacy on truth in the news (“Fake News, Digital Literacies”) and subjective takes on science (“Your Science, My Science, and to Hell With Our Science”).

Next week, CCE launches the Hempstead High School Initiative along with the Hofstra University Honors College, bringing Hofstra university tutors to Hempstead High School four times per week for a total of eight hours of weekly tutoring in math, science, English, and history. The Initiative has grown since its inception in Spring 2016 and now enrolls more than 45 tutors. In addition, the Initiative is working with the New York State Mentoring Program to connect more than 20 volunteers with mentees in the Barack Obama Elementary School in Hempstead. All told, close to 70 volunteers are working hundreds of hours in Hempstead School District each week in an attempt to move the needle on graduation rates.

Center for Civic Engagement fellows, interns, and volunteers are working with additional community partners including Herstory Writers Workshop, a nonprofit that offers memoir writing workshops in Long Island communities, schools, and jails; the Greater Uniondale Area Action Coalition, a grassroots community group that addresses issues facing the Uniondale community; and Homecoming Farms, an organic farm run by the Sisters of St. Dominic of Amityville.

Our school year has gotten off to a challenging start with the passing of our leader, Dr. Greg Maney, professor of sociology and CCE Director of Active Citizenship and Community Partnerships. Dr. Maney has led the Center for Civic Engagement since 20XX, broadening its focus to initiatives off campus and in the local community.

Most notably, Dr. Maney led the anti-bullying effort, I Support Roosevelt  Youth initiative, and worked with the Greater Uniondale Area Action Coalition to win the battle against the East Garden City initiative, which sought to divide the hamlet of Uniondale. Dr. Maney launched the Hempstead High School Initiative that brings Hofstra University students into the high school for tutoring four times per week with an effort to move the needle on graduation rates, currently at 38%.

Dr. Maney’s legacy stretches long and the gap he leaves in university and community life is large. We hope all who are inspired by his work and his memory will reach out to CCE to continue the noble objectives that he so diligently pursued.

Dr. Yvonne Teems
Acting Director for Active Citizenship and Community Partnerships
Center for Civic Engagement

Monday October 2nd- Friday October 6th

Monday, October 2nd

Reflections on Charlottesville: Revisiting Hate Speech and the First Amendment – 12:00pm-2:00 in Law School Room 230

Recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia, raise the fundamental question of the extent to which longstanding First Amendment protection for hate speech should be revisited. Worldwide, there is a surge in racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, and many of those close to political power are engaged in such expressions. The U.S. has robust protection for such speech, but some European countries do not. To what extent should the U.S. revisit its approach to hate speech? This panel will explore this question as well as whether there are suitable alternatives that are better in this evolving political and technological landscape.

Tuesday, October 3rd

Frank Meeink: A Former Skinhead’s Fight Against Prejudice – Student Center Theater at 7pm

Hofstra Hillel: The Center for Jewish Life on Campus presents Frank Meeink: A Former Skinhead’s Fight Against Prejudice.A violent South Philadelphia childhood made Frank Meeink easy prey for skinhead gang recruiters. By age 14, Frank had shaved his head and was a leader in the neo-Nazi movement hosting a cable access show called The Reich used for recruitment. While serving a sentence in an Illinois prison, he questioned his hatred in large part to his African-American teammates on a prison football league. After being paroled, Frank defected from the white supremacy movement. Inspired by seeing a police officer holding a lifeless child in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing, he pledged to stop the spread of hatred he himself once had and has appeared on behalf of the Anti-Defamation League, on MTV and other national networks. Commemorating the International Day of Non-Violence. Co-sponsored by The Cultural Center.

Wednesday, October 4th

Film Screening: Invisible Heroes, African Americans in the Spanish Civil War – Student Center Theater at 7:30pm

Thursday, October 5th

Millennial Workers and the Labor Movement – 10th floor of Axinn Library, 11:10am-12:35pm.

The Hofstra Labor Studies Program presents Millennial Workers and the Labor Movement. Young people ages 24 to 35 are fast reshaping the job market. What are their perspectives on the role of labor unions? How can unions and other employee organizations ensure job quality and fairness in their new world of work? Leading labor activists discuss the fast-changing job scene. The latest findings from a new Hofstra study of New York will be presented in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Center for the Study of Labor and Democracy’s journal, Regional Labor Review. Co-sponsored by the Center for the Study of Labor and Democracy.

Literature in Motion: Questions After Peace and Immigration – 10th Floor of Axinn Library from 4:30pm-6:00pm.

Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program (LACS) and African Studies Program present Literature in Motion: Questions After Peace and Immigration. This panel will be set as a dialogue surrounding Colombia, in the aftermath of the recent Peace Process Agreement, and Spain, as the recipient of a large number of immigrants from Latin American and the Caribbean in the past two decades. It will showcase a number of literary voices from the region, including: William Ospina, writer from Colombia; Giovanny Gómez, director of the poetry magazine Luna de Locos and the International Festival of Poetry in Pereira, Colombia; Iván Oñate, writer from Ecuador; and Rafael Soler, writer from Spain. The Joseph G. Astman Cultural Events are presented in loving memory of Dr. Joseph G. Astman, founder of the Hofstra Cultural Center. Dr. Astman was a humanist, cultural comparatist and international scholar. Co-sponsored by the Hofstra Cultural Center

International Scene Lecture: Pursuing Peace: The Role of Civil Society – Cultural Center Theater from 4:30pm-6:00pm.

Pursuing Peace: The Role of Civil Society features speaker Phyllis Bennis, director of the New Internationalist Project at the Institute for Policy Studies. This lecture is presented by Hofstra University’s Departments of Economics, History, and Sociology, in cooperation with Hofstra’s Center for Civic Engagement, Institute for Peace Studies, Peace Action Matters, and Hofstra Cultural Center; Long Island Teachers for Human Rights; and the Long Island Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives.Series Co-Directors: Dr. Carolyn Eisenberg, Dr. Linda Longmire and Prof. Martin Melkonian.

Inauguration of the Institute for Peace Studies – Student Center Multipurpose Room from 6:00pm-8:00pm. Speakers include Mark Lukens, CCE Directors, Community Activists, Hofstra Faculty, and Peace Fellows.



Hempstead High School Initiative

Hofstra University is only 3 miles away from Hempstead High School, and 5 miles away from Garden City High School. The two high schools are less than 2 miles apart, but Garden City has a graduation rate of 99%, while Hempstead has a graduation rate of 38%.

The goal of the Hempstead High School Initiative is to improve the students’ academic success through a variety of programs, including college prep mentors, workshops in college prep (SAT/ACT, financial aid, interviews, etc.), and more. The Center for Civic Engagement, Hofstra Honors College, and the Liberty Partnership Program participate in a tutoring program at Hempstead High School and a mentoring program at Barack Obama Elementary School. There, students get the opportunity to make a difference in their community by helping younger kids prepare for college and succeed in school.

All majors and years are able and encouraged take part in the program. Students will begin visiting the schools on October 2nd.