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Student-Run Conference Looks at Gender, Justice and Social Entrepreneurship

October 18, 2012

Simmons held its first annual Gender, Justice, and Social Entrepreneurship Conference October 11, bringing the College community together to talk about social justice as it relates to gender and the food industry.

The student-led event included several panel discussions and featured keynote addresses by College of Arts and Sciences Dean Renée White and Robin Wiszowaty, author and Kenya Program Director of the international charity Free the Children. White, Wiszowaty, and other speakers shared their experiences related to food justice, and described efforts being taken at Simmons and around the world to jumpstart social change.

"Everyone today needs to know we hold the power of change in ourselves regardless of our age or experience level," said Professor Teresa Nelson, Elizabeth J. McCandless Chair in Entrepreneurship in the School of Management-hyperlink please. "Many, many members of our community are involved at local, national, and global levels as social entrepreneurs – but we don't have the institutional structures to stay connected. The conference moves us one step toward that goal."

The conference drew 500 participants over the course of the day, and cemented the role of higher education in developing solutions to global issues. Professor Nelson and Economics Professor Carole Biewener worked with students, faculty, and the deans to plan for the event, which will take place every year with a different theme.

For Dean White, the conference served as a reminder to re-commit to community-based work on food security.

"During and after the conference I have had the opportunity to speak with faculty, students, and staff about the wealth of information we all have learned, and I know that many have been inspired to continue the examination of gender and social justice," said Dean White. "One student said to me, ‘At first, I didn't get the connection between food and gender, but now I do. Food is a political issue.' I think that sums it up in a nutshell."

Photo caption: Conference organizers from left to right: Kelsey Truman, Carla Gomes, Teresa Nelson, Carole Biewener, Allison Whittier, Aisha Shillingford, and Amy Thornton.

To read Professor Teresa Nelson's blog about the conference, click here.