St. Louis Community College Responds to the Ferguson Crisis

By: David J. Smith, September 28, 2014

Faculty session at St. Louis Community College

Faculty session at St. Louis Community College

In the last few days, more protests have taken place in Ferguson, Missouri.  Last week the chief of the Ferguson Police Department issued an apology to the family of Michael Brown.  The Brown family has recently asked the Department of Justice to take over the case against Officer Darren Wilson. And the grand jury continues to meet with an report expected in October.

Going unnoticed in the midst of these events are ways in which local schools are responding to events, and how educators are using the Ferguson situation as a teaching opportunity.   On August 28/29, 2014 I visited St. Louis Community College. I was asked by the college’s leadership to meet with and listen to students, faculty, staff,  and administrators about their concerns, and facilitate a conversation about how the college might respond to the current situation. During my visit I met with nearly 150 individuals including the chancellor, vice chancellor for academic affairs, presidents from several campuses, and faculty and students from the Forest Park and Florissant Valley  (which is located in Ferguson) campuses.  After my visit I issued a report to the college making recommendations on how  it might promote racial equality, conflict resolution, legal understanding, and social justice.

Students shared stories with me about their experiences  of being harassed and abused by law enforcement.   Young black men in particular have been the targets of profiling and unfair treatment.   The stories were powerful ones.   I also learned about the overbearing and militarized tactics that police engaged in during the unrest in August.

Student session at St. Louis  Community College

Student session at St. Louis Community College

During my meetings with students, I asked them to rate their feelings or opinions regarding “challenges,” “goals,” “means,””people,” and “resources.”   This document, titled “Moving Forward” is found below.  Students felt the most critical challenge related to racism and violence, their most important goals focused on creating community and racial equality, the means they desired  involved  peaceful confrontation and dialogue,  the people they would work with included peers, family, and strangers, and the resources they would rely on included community organizations and schools.  Many students felt a sense of frustration and overall exhaustion. I also asked students what they expected from their community and the college, and how they could contribute. I engaged in  similar exercises with faculty and staff.

Goals and outcomes

Goals and outcomes

In my recommendations to the college I urged that immediately the college consider large scale legal education, building capacity for students to engage in dialogue and learn nonviolent means for change, and have an opportunity to “process” events (focusing especially on trauma and psychological well-being). Long term recommendations focused on curriculum development including in racism, social justice, service learning, human rights, conflict resolution, and peace studies.  In the area of student activities, sponsoring activities that would be sustainable over a long period of time to raise awareness of race issues and allow for dialogue was needed. Faculty and staff development in race relations and social justice issues was suggested.   Working with the community to position the college as  a resource was also recommended.   Finally, I recommended that the college establish a center that could be the focal point of student activities, community outreach, and academic coordination.  The models of Virginia Tech and Kent State might be considered.

Faculty session

Faculty session

During my visit, I was impressed by the dedication of the faculty, staff and administration of the college to serve the needs of students, but also the greater community.  As the only college in Ferguson, the Florissant Valley campus, in particular, is in a unique position to be a catalyst for positive change and to promote important social justice issues.

The college library has developed a valuable website for those teaching about the Ferguson crisis: Events in Ferguson, Missouri.  My visit was covered in The Montage, the student newspaper of the Meramec campus; and The Scene, the student newspaper of the Forest Park campus.

Besides the document “Moving Forward” I also distributed a document titled “My Comments” that I used to urge students to make supportive statements when talking with fellow students.

MY COMMENTS, David J. Smith, 8.29.14

MOVING FORWARD, David J. Smith, 8.29.14

College Makes Peace with Toronto

Sault College is moving its peace and conflict studies program to Toronto and teaming up with College Boreal for optional French delivery of the two-year program.

A memorandum of understanding, signed Friday by presidents Ron Common and Pierre Riopel, outlines how the two post-secondary institutions will work together.

Sault College began offering the only diploma program of its kind in Ontario in September 2010.

Seven peace and conflict majors will finish the program in Sault Ste. Marie.

Other students, including academic and career entrance, community integration through co-operative education and continuing education students have taken program courses as electives.

Instruction begins in January at College Boreal’s campus at 1 Yonge St. Students also have the option of a fall start. Two faculty members will move to Toronto.

The program’s move to the provincial capital will give students “access to a wider array of related global activities, advocacy work, social movements and peace organizations,” Common said in a statement. “The opportunities to partner with like-minded individuals are significant.”

Students are required to complete a 250-hour field practicum.

The two schools began exploring a partnership about two years ago. The signed agreement is for five years “with the hope of continuing collaborations thereafter,” said Susan Hunter, Sault College director of marketing and communications, in an email.

“Management teams at both of the Northern colleges recognized a unique partnership opportunity for Ontario’s two premier colleges in offering strong post-secondary peace education programming.”

Sault College expects to draw applicants from high school graduates, adult learners, newcomers to Canada and persons wanting a second career.

The program was promoted at Newcomers Toronto Fair, for new and settled immigrants, Sept. 13-14.

Peace and conflict studies promotes social justice, human rights, violence prevention and cultural diversity.

The pact signed with College Boreal is the latest partnership Sault College has struck with other post-secondary institutions.

An aircraft structural repair program is based at Fanshawe College. A millwright apprenticeship is at Durham College.

Students interested in Humber College’s golf management program can take required business courses at Sault College before continuing their studies at the Toronto college.

Sault College also works with Laurentian University (collaborative bachelor of science in nursing) and has articulation agreements with Lake Superior State University. The most recent pact with LSSU, signed in March, allows college students who complete a two-year business diploma program to earn a business administration degree from Lake State in two years.

This was originally posted on 9/21/14 in the Sault Star

NOVA and The World: Inaugural Workshop! Don’t miss the rest of the series!

This was originally posted at It is re-posted here with permission.

By Cindy Miller, Northern Virginia Community College, September 12, 2014

David Smith, an International and Internationally known speaker on the issues of human rights talked to a group of NOVA faculty on Friday, September 12th about the ways in which we might integrate discussion and teaching about human rights into our curricula across all disciplines.  He provided us with sample exercises (debates, agreeing, emerging discussions, story telling,  problem solving and others).   An interesting d2014-15_NOVA_and_the_World_schedule_imageiscussion!

Don’t miss the Rest of the NOVA and World Series held this year!

Smith and Frank FerraraSmith 1Smith and rights umbrella 1Smith 2

Deadline Extended to Monday, 9/29/14: National Community College Peacebuilding Seminar, Northern Virginia Community College

The deadline for the National Community College Peacebuilding Seminar to be held October 17-20, 2014 at Northern Virginia Community College/Alexandria has been extended to Monday, September 29, 2014.  Payment and application must be received by 4:30 p.m. EDT.   For more information contact Linda Rodriguez at .

Call for Submissions: International Education at Community Colleges: From Optional to Integral

International Education at Community Colleges: From Optional to Integral
Edited by
Rosalind Latiner Raby (California State University, Northridge)
Edward Valeau (Senior Partner ELS group and Superintendent President Emeritus of Hartnell Community College)
You are invited to submit a contribution to an edited volume to be published by Palgrave Publishers.  The book, International Education at Community Colleges: From Optional to Integral, will highlight the uniqueness of community college international education.  We invite contributions that unpack the changing dimensions of community college international education from that of an optional program to an integral one (King and Fersh, 1992) that is institutionalized as a comprehensive part of the college whole.
For over sixty years, community colleges have been implementing various international educational programs and practices, including taking part in faculty exchanges, enrolling international students, offering education abroad programs, internationalizing their curriculum, and participating in bilateral and cooperative agreements that provide technical, vocational, and occupational education, workforce improvement, and international trade and development to institutions in other countries.  In each context, international education aims to connect students, faculty, and local communities to people, cultures, and contexts beyond local borders.
Chapters are invited from practitioners and scholars in the field of community college international education who can contribute to a critical understanding of the field by sharing original research on the impact that international education has had for community colleges.  The intent is to have a combination of state-of-the-field reviews, new empirical scholarship, and critical discussions that help to depict variables that account for successful programs and those that are not so successful. All manuscripts will undergo a blind peer-review.  Editors will only consider papers written in English.
If you would like to contribute a chapter to this book, please email an expression of interest to Dr. Rosalind Latiner Raby at
Expressions of interest should be received by October 24, 2014.  Please submit:
a) Title of chapter
b) Author contact details (position, institution, email, and phone)
c) 500 – 750 word description of the chapter that includes a description of the theoretical and/or empirical emphasis of the chapter.Contributors will be notified of acceptance decisions by November 14, 2014 and sent chapter format and guidelines at that time.  Please note that first draft of chapters are due by February 27, 2014 with final chapters due by May 15, 2014.  Completed chapters should be between 3,500 and 4,500 words (excluding references).

Thank you in advance for considering this invitation.
Please send chapter proposals and questions to
Rosalind Raby
(818) 882-9931

Promoting Good Communication Among Educational Leaders

By: David J. Smith, September 3, 2014

In May 2014 I was invited to develop an afternoon workshop for the Anne Arundel County (MD)  Board of Education.  The board had recently appointed a new superintendent and wanted to create an opportunity for  board members to meet with him in a working environment.   The focus of the workshop was advancing effective communication approaches, looking at ways to resolve differences, and promoting collaboration.

Before the workshop I implemented a survey with the participants using SurveyMonkey.   This gave me an opportunity to consider the needs of individual board members and how they saw upcoming priorities.  During the first part of the workshop, I shared with the group the survey results.

We discussed the role of trust and how it could be enhanced.  This led to considering a fictitious situation  where trust and communication had broken down in a board. Participants were asked to consider how trust might be rebuilt.

Consensus is a means of decision making.  We discussed the importance of consensus building.  Using a simulation I created called “Comments by a Former President” we considered how a college board might respond to a situation where a former president made racially disparaging remarks (after a building was named after him.)

The program ended with a short visioning exercising using some precepts from Appreciative Inquiry.