Simmons World Challenge tackles social justice

By Ellen Garnett
Staff Writer

For its seventh year, Simmons World Challenge (SWC) is gearing up to provide sophomores a collaborative learning experience that addresses an urgent social justice problem, with this year’s theme being: “Arresting Aggression: Can Civil Discourse and Other Non-Violent Means Reduce Systemized and Impulsive Violence?”
SWC participants can expect to learn about violence in its various contexts, including but not limited to terrorism, gang violence, and the impact of violence on the economy and health care system. Alternately, students will learn about non-violent approaches to solutions, such as peace negotiations and reconciliation efforts. The challenge portion of this intensive program will entail students working in teams to craft their own solutions to the theme of “Arresting Aggression.”
Former participants usually agree that the program, which is specifically for second-year students, was a “transformative” experience for its lasting applications on how to work best in teams. Sophomores from all majors are encouraged to apply, as everyone can provide diverse perspectives on how to address the problem. Students will have the opportunity to exercise leadership, sharpen their presentation abilities, and brush up on their research skills.

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Credit: Kate Burkhart

“World Challenge was something that intimidated me at first because it is an intense program with a lot of working in groups. But it was something I had to do because I was afraid, so it was worth it,” said junior Emily Chicklis, who participated in SWC in 2015 – 2016 on the theme of civic engagement. Chicklis reflected that her involvement strengthened her ability to work in teams and she even made some new friends.
Throughout its existence, SWC has produced lasting and memorable projects, including a screening protocol for intimate partner violence, which has since been implemented at the Simmons Health Center.
“This team wondered whether local hospitals were screening ER patients for intimate partner violence and found, after field research across the city’s major hospitals, that most were not doing so consistently, and/or lacked an efficient screening protocol,” said Professor Benjamin J. Cole, SWC coordinator. “After a successful presentation to the Simmons community, this team won a grant that allowed them to design and implement their new protocol at Simmons as a pilot program.”
World Challenge, which runs for two weeks at the end of winter break, provides some attractive incentives for prospective participants: a $1,000 stipend, free room/board during the January session, eight academic credits, and completion of the PLAN learning community requirement. But wait, there’s more!
“This year, for the first time, we are very excited to be able to offer qualified student teams seed funds to implement their projects, and the opportunity to compete for a $5,000 start-up grant offered by the Alumnae Association,” said Professor Cole.
Those who are interested in learning more about World Challenge can attend an info session on Monday, Oct. 17 at 6:30 p.m. in M-101 or email Professor Cole at benjamin.cole@simmons.edu for an application. Applications are due on Monday, Oct. 24.

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