Though it wasn’t possible to pack the campus with visitors this year, MCLA still brought diverse voices, thought leadership, and expert perspectives through virtual lectures. Thousands of people, from students to community members to parents and alumni located far from campus, were able to enjoy these events from their homes.
Drawing on his nearly two decades of experience on Capitol Hill, in both the Senate and House of Representatives, Jeff Flake shared candid, thought-provoking, and engaging insights on today’s political climate. Combining riveting anecdotes from his time in office, lessons from his New York Times bestselling book Conscience of a Conservative, and insights on the importance of civil leadership and bipartisanship, Flake painted a vivid picture of our current political environment and where we can expect our nation’s democracy to go from here.
MCLA’s Berkshire Cultural Resource Center continued to host virtual talks with artists from all over the world for its featured artist series, including Anina Major, whose work, primarily in clay, draws from anthropological research and oral histories to challenge postcolonial ideology and advocate for critical dialogue around developing cultural identities; Conrad Egyir, whose narrative paintings borrow from Afrocentric folklore that is rooted in political and religious erudition; and multimedia artist O.M. France Viana, whose artworks interrogate the semiotics of color, spirituality and consciousness, and Filipino American and Venezuelan identity.
Dr. Susan Natali is an Arctic ecologist whose focus on permafrost thaw is motivated by an acute awareness of the risks it poses in the Arctic and to the planet. She leads the Woodwell Climate Research Center’s Arctic Program, which investigates the drivers and consequences of rapid Arctic change. Her research examines the effects of permafrost thaw and northern wildfires on the release of greenhouse gasses, and thus, on global climate. She also works with local communities in the Arctic who are adapting to the impacts of a rapidly warming climate, including the effects of permafrost thaw.
Caren Beilin is a creative writer working at the intersection of feminism and disability poetics. She is the author most recently of the nonfiction book Blackfishing the IUD (Wolfman Books, 2019), a CLMP Firecracker Award nominee. Her other books include a memoir, Spain (Rescue Press, 2018), and a novel, The University of Pennsylvania (Noemi Press, 2014). As Hardman Scholar-in-Residence, Dr. Beilin shared details about a new MCLA residency program she developed with MASS MoCA that aims to invite young, emerging writers into the MCLA and North Adams community.
The first lectures in a new series established through the MCLA Lavender Fund, which raises funds to bring LGBTQIA+ speakers to campus, send students to attend LGBTQIA+ conferences, and sponsors student trips to historic and influential locations in the LGBTQIA+ movement, Moore (left), an award-winning writer and leading Black Lives Matter activist, discussed his bestselling memoir No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black and Free in America. Morse (right) shared the story of his political journey, from growing up in a housing project in Holyoke to becoming its youngest and first openly gay mayor at age 22.