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What is the Human Identities Initiative?

In Fall 2012, the Office of the Provost launches a year-long series of events, lectures, and programs entitled “Human Identities: Global, Local, Personal,” in conjunction with the Commons Reading 2012 [Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide] and the exhibition Long Story Bit by Bit: Liberia Retold by Tim Hetherington. This campus-wide initiative is designed to raise a nuanced dialogue about gender and sexuality across the Vanderbilt community.

How does the Human Identities Initiative relate to the Commons Reading 2012?

“Human Identities: Global, Local, Personal,” inspired by the first-year Common Reading, highlights gender issues in a global context through Half the Sky. It also extends to a curated, campus-wide discussion about encounters with all of the social identities we hold, encounters that repeatedly challenge undergraduates at the university. Our overarching goal is to guide students in developing conceptual tools to live in all their gendered contexts. A range of resources has been identified to facilitate this effort: small group discussions of Half the Sky by first-year students, undergraduate upperclassmen, and faculty in Vanderbilt Visions groups and Commons Houses; courses developed by Women and Gender Studies, Political Science, and the Commons Seminars Program; and other events sponsored by the Office of the Dean of Students, undergraduate academic deans, and student organizations.

Planning Committee Membership

  • Chaired by Cynthia J. Cyrus, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education
  • Gregory Barz, Faculty Head of North House
  • Katherine Crawford, Director, Women’s and Gender Studies
  • Kayce Matthews, Associate Director, Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center
  • Jessica Reasons, Program Coordinator, The Ingram Commons
  • Nora Spencer, Director, Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center and The K.C. Potter Center
  • Sandy Stahl, Associate Dean of Students
  • Celia Walker, Director of Special Projects, Jean and Alexander Heard Library
  • Nina Warnke, Assistant Dean of The Ingram Commons
  • Francis W. Wcislo, Dean of The Ingram Commons


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