The Opportunity of Now Event Series

The Opportunity of Now event series: Spring 2021

“We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there ‘is’ such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

We are experiencing a critical moment in history - an opportunity to redefine and transform how we show up in the world. How can we learn from this moment so that we, and our neighboring communities, transform for the better? Are there ways we can experience this moment through a lens of possibility and curiosity rather than fear and anxiety? 

Each academic year, Duke Service-Learning chooses a theme to focus our work and to learn with and from our communities. We are designating our efforts in 2020-21 as The Opportunity of Now, inspired by the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

We hope you'll join us in the months ahead as faculty, students, and community partners reflect on the potential opportunities this challenging time may offer and enact strategies to engage in "vigorous and positive action." 

Friday, 2/12, 4:30pm-5:30pm: Strategies for Success with Virtual Service-Learning: Join Duke Service-Learning to learn about tools and strategies for virtual service-learning that faculty and service-learning assistants successfully implemented last fall. The goal of this workshop is to provide tangible tools service-learning faculty and SLAs may draw upon in their work this spring. Let’s get energized for the semester ahead!

Tuesday, 3/23, 4:00pm-5:30pm: The Urgency and Opportunity of Now: Social Justice Service-Learning: Duke Service-Learning is excited to welcome back Dr. Tania Mitchell, an internationally recognized scholar on community engagement and higher education. Her work on critical service-learning has been instrumental to our mission of promoting social equity and social change in community-engaged experiences. This visit will focus on challenging our understanding of ways service-learning and community-engaged work can respond to critical community issues as we navigate the challenges of the current moment. Dr. Mitchell’s proximity to the site of George Floyd’s death, just three blocks from her home, is informing her scholarship and experiences with community-engaged work. In her talk, she will share how she and her neighbors are transforming George Floyd Square into a place of activism and healing. All are welcome. RSVP here. 

Wednesday, 3/24, 4:00pm-5:30pm: The Fierce Urgency of Our Shared Humanity - A conversation about truth, accountability, reconciliation, healing, and how we move forward in recognizing our shared humanity: MLK, Jr. wrote, “Our goal is to create a beloved community - this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.” This student-centered conversation will explore the ways students experience the Duke community – their joys, their frustrations, their concerns, their dreams for our campus community. With Dean Ashby as our facilitator, we will encourage participants to think and feel more deeply about questions such as: How can we speak our truths, refuse to compromise on our human dignity, hold ourselves and others accountable - while finding pathways to forgiveness, reconciliation, transformation, and healing? Can there be equity, inclusion, justice at Duke without there first being greater acknowledgement and transparent processing of the past and present truths of our University? What do we do with anger, contempt, shame, and derision? How do we at Duke move forward in creating what MLK called the “beloved community”? All are welcome. RSVP here.

Wednesday, 4/14, 4:00pm-5:30pm: Can we decolonize critical service-learning? The limits and possibilities to social justice based service-learning: Critical service-learning questions structures of power and advocates social change in contexts of community-engaged work. But is that enough when universities are embedded in neoliberal and settler colonial projects? Join this conversation with scholar Aurora Santiago-Ortiz to envision pedagogies and practices that disrupt coloniality and transgress dominant or Eurocentric understandings of knowledge and relationships (Santiago-Ortiz, 2019). All are welcome. RSVP here.

Friday, 4/16, 12:00pm-1:00pm: The Opportunities of Struggle and What We Will Keep: Faculty Reflection on Lessons Learned During Covid-19: Our nonprofit and school collaborators report while this year demanded immense creativity and flexibility, new methods of effective outreach emerged and structural inequities were lifted up in public discourse. Engage in a robust conversation and reflection with colleagues to consider how challenges in community engagement led to new learning and unexpected opportunities in the time of Covid-19. As activities return to “normal,” what will we keep? Invitation only.